Pancreatic cancer develops in the pancreatic cells. The pancreas releases hormones that regulate blood sugar levels and enzymes that assist digestion. Although pancreatic cancer is not very common in India, the reported cases are rising. Pancreatic cancer has a low survival rate, especially when diagnosed at advanced stages.
Types of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer can be differentiated based on cancer effects on exocrine and endocrine glands. The two types of pancreatic cancer are:
- Exocrine pancreatic cancer: These glands produce enzymes that enter the intestine. It helps to digest fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. Tumors that affect the exocrine gland are adenocarcinomas, acinar cell carcinoma, and cystic tumors.
- Endocrine pancreatic cancer: Endocrine glands release hormones, such as insulin and glucagon, directly into the blood. Impaired function of the gland can lead to diabetes. Tumors that affect endocrine glands are insulinomas, glucagonomas, gastrinomas and somatostatinomas.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Patients with pancreatic cancer may have the following symptoms:
- Pain from the abdomen to back
- Loss of appetite
- Yellowish skin and white of eyes (jaundice)
- Light-colored or pale grey stool
- Dark urine color
- Itchy skin
- Existing or new diagnosis of diabetes
- Blood clots
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin rash
- Diarrhea or constipation
Causes of Pancreatic Cancer
There is no definite cause of pancreatic cancer. Risk factors for pancreatic cancer are:
- Forms of tobacco
- Exposure to chemicals used in dry cleaners and metal workers
- Being physically inactive
- Consuming a diet that is high in red meat and fat
- Low fruits and vegetable diet
- Drinking alcohol
- Hereditary chronic pancreatitis
- Age older than 45 years
- Being male
- Family history of pancreatic cancer or syndromes such as Lynch syndrome or BRCA2 gene mutation.
If the patient experiences one or more of the above symptoms, they should consult a physician immediately. At HCG Manavata Cancer Center, we have some of the best pancreatic cancer doctors in Nashik who are skilled at managing pancreatic cancers with excellent clinical outcomes.
Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer
HCG Manavata Cancer Center, the best hospital for pancreatic cancer in Nashik, has advanced facilities for accurate diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer can be diagnosed through the following techniques:
Imaging tests: Imaging tests help doctors to see the internal organs, including the pancreas. The diagnostic imaging techniques include ultrasound, CT, MRI, and PET scans.
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS): EUS uses ultrasound devices to create images of the pancreas. The device includes a thin tube that passes through the esophagus into the stomach to take images.
Biopsy: The procedure includes the removal of a tissue sample of the pancreas for testing under a microscope.
Blood test: A blood test may examine the specific proteins or tumor markers produced by pancreatic cancer cells. A tumor marker test, called CA19-9, helps in diagnosing pancreatic cancer.
Advanced cancer center offers the best pancreatic cancer treatment in Nashik. Following are the treatment options for pancreatic cancer:
Surgery: Surgery removes the cancerous pancreatic part and surrounding lymph nodes. The surgery is called pancreatectomy. The Whipple procedure is a preferred surgical option to treat cancer located in the head of the pancreas.
Chemotherapy: The therapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The doctor may approach a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat pancreatic cancer. The combination often referred to as chemoradiation, is also used to treat cancer spread to distant organs from the pancreas.
Immunotherapy: The cancer cells hide from the immune system by synthesizing certain proteins. Immunotherapy interferes with the synthesis of these proteins and makes the cancer cells vulnerable to the immune system.
Targeted therapy: It is a new approach with fewer side effects than chemotherapy. Targeted therapy stops cancer cells from growing by targeting essential cellular processes of the cancer cells. Different targeted therapies include EGFR inhibitors that block the EGFR protein, PARP inhibitors that block the PARP enzyme, and NTRK inhibitors.
Radiation therapy: The therapy destroys pancreatic cancer cells by focusing high-energy beams on the cancer cells. Radiation therapy causes side effects such as skin changes, gastrointestinal disturbances, and fatigue.
Embolization: It is a technique that involves injecting a substance into the artery that blocks the blood from reaching the cancer cells. Blockage of blood supply results in the death of cancer cells.
Ablation: The procedure uses heat or cold to destroy a tumor. Some side effects of the procedure are pain, infections, and internal bleeding.
Supportive Care: Supportive or palliative care mainly helps relieve symptoms, such as obstruction in the bile duct, in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can pancreatic cancer be prevented?
Pancreatic cancers cannot be completely prevented. But you can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. For example, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol intake can reduce the risk. An early cancer diagnosis can also help prevent the spread of pancreatic cancer through early management.
2. What are the organs to which cancer spreads?
The cancer cells rapidly reproduce and potentially invade the healthy tissues of distant organs. It is known as metastatic cancer. These cancer cells reach the lymphatic system and ultimately spread to other organs. For example, pancreatic cancer can metastasize to the liver, portal vein, celiac plexus, lymph nodes, and ligament of Treitz (which is a thin muscle that wraps around the small intestine).
3. How pancreatic cancer affects the digestive system?
There are several digestive issues caused by pancreatic cancer. These include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, indigestion, the feeling of fullness, poor digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, diarrhea, bile obstruction, and bowel obstruction.
4. Can vitamin E lower the risk of pancreatic cancer?
Foods that have high vitamin E can decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer. You can include vitamin E-containing foods in your diets, such as nuts and seeds like almonds and sunflower seeds. In addition, fruits like Avacado, mango, apricot, cranberries, kiwi, meat products such as lobster, salmon, octopus, and crayfish, and vegetables like turnip green, butternut squash, broccoli, beet greens, and asparagus are good sources of vitamin E.
5. How is life after removing the pancreas?
Fortunately, the removal of the pancreas will not affect your life expectancy. However, you will get diabetes, which means you will depend on insulin that needs to be injected regularly. In addition, you will have to take some enzyme supplements that help in digesting food.