Overview

Cancer that begins in the organ lying behind the lower part of the stomach (pancreas).
The pancreas secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars. This type of cancer is often detected late, spreads rapidly and has a poor prognosis.

There are no symptoms in the early stages. Later stages are associated with symptoms, but these can be non-specific, such as lack of appetite and weight loss.
Treatment may include surgically removing the pancreas, radiation and chemotherapy

Symptoms

Often times, the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer don’t appear until the disease has progressed. They can include:

Treatment

Often in cancer treatment, different types of doctors and other health professionals work together to create an overall treatment plan for a patient that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team. Cancer care teams include a variety of other health professionals, such as: B. Physician assistants, nurses, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, nutritionists and others.

Descriptions of the common types of treatments for pancreatic cancer are provided below, followed by an overview of treatments by stage. The current treatment options for pancreatic cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Your care plan also includes treating symptoms and side effects, an important part of cancer treatment.

Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, patient preferences, and general health. Take the time to research all of your treatment options and ask questions about unclear things. Talk to your doctor about the goals of each treatment and what to expect during treatment. This type of discussion is known as “joint decision making”. Joint decisions are made when you and your doctors work together to select treatments that match the goals of your care. Joint decision-making is particularly important for pancreatic cancer as there are different treatment options. Learn more about treatment decisions.

If detected early, it is much more likely that pancreatic cancer will be treated successfully. However, there are treatments that can help control the disease in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer so that they can live longer.

Daignosis

Doctors use many tests to detect or diagnose cancer. They also do tests to find out if the cancer has spread to another part of the body from where it started. In this case one speaks of a metastasis. For example, imaging tests can show whether the cancer has spread. Imaging tests show pictures of the inside of the body. Doctors can also run tests to find out which treatments might work best.

For most cancers, the only safe way for the doctor to determine if cancer is present in any area of ​​the body is a biopsy. However, a cancer diagnosis is possible without a fully confirmed biopsy. During a biopsy, the doctor takes a small sample of tissue from the area that is suspected of having cancer to be tested in a laboratory. It is known that biopsies for pancreatic cancer are often difficult to perform because of the location of the pancreas and the fact that pancreatic tumors are often initially smaller and larger than other cancerous tumors. Sometimes the doctor can get a tissue sample, but the sample may contain a very small amount of tumor cells. If a biopsy isn’t possible, the doctor may suggest other tests to help with the diagnosis.

This section describes the ways you can diagnose pancreatic cancer. Not all of the tests listed below will be used for every person. Your doctor may consider the following factors when choosing a diagnostic test:

  1. The type of cancer suspected
  2. Your signs and symptoms
  3. Your age, general health, and family history

The results of previous medical tests

When a doctor suspects a person has pancreatic cancer, the first thing they do is ask about their medical and family history. Then they examine the person for signs of the disease. Correct and timely diagnosis is very important. If possible, tests should be done in a medical center that has experience with the disease. The tests listed below can be used if pancreatic cancer is suspected. However, the diagnosis must be confirmed by a tumor tissue sample taken during a biopsy, fine needle aspiration, or surgery.

When to see the doctor

When a person has signs and symptoms that could be caused by pancreatic cancer, certain examinations and tests will be done to find the cause. If cancer is found, more tests will be done to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer.

Risk factor

In general, the following factors can increase a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer:

Age. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most people with pancreatic cancer are over 45 years old. In fact, 90% are over 55 and 70% over 65. However, pancreatic cancer can be diagnosed in adults of any age.

Sex. More men are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than women (see statistics).

Race / ethnicity. Blacks are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than Asians, Hispanics, or whites. People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are also more likely to develop pancreatic cancer (see family history below).

Smoke. People who smoke tobacco are two to three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than people who don’t smoke it. Find out more about smoking cessation.

Obesity, diet and alcohol. Regular consumption of high-fat foods is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Research has shown that obese and even obese people are at greater risk of being diagnosed and dying from pancreatic cancer. Chronic drinking and binge drinking can also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, possibly by causing recurrent pancreatitis, which is a repeated inflammation of the pancreas. Learn about the relationship between cancer risk and obesity, food choices and alcohol consumption.

Diabetes. Many studies have shown that diabetes increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, especially if a person has had diabetes for many years. In addition, the sudden development of diabetes in later adulthood can be an early symptom of pancreatic cancer. However, it is important to remember that not everyone with diabetes or diagnosed with diabetes in adulthood will develop pancreatic cancer.