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Home >> Specialities >> Cancer Care >> Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Pancreatic Cancer ranks 12th on the list of most common cancers affecting people across the globe. Nearly 500,000 new cases of Pancreatic Cancer are diagnosed every year, with men being at a higher risk of developing it than women. The global incidence of Pancreatic Cancer is 5.5 per 100,000 men and 4.0 per 100,000 women. Most of the patients who are diagnosed with malignancy are above 45 years of age. It is very rare in the case of children, however, the chances are not completely nil. 

What is Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic Cancer originates from the cells found within the pancreas, a tiny, glandular organ that is responsible for releasing important digestive enzymes and hormones for regulating blood glucose levels. Pancreatic tumours are broadly classified into two types - exocrine tumours and neuroendocrine tumours, which are further divided into several different types. Exocrine tumours are very common and account for about 93 per cent of all Pancreatic tumours. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of tumour. 

What are the symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?
Common symptoms that may point towards the possibility of Pancreatic Cancer include:

  • Pain in the abdomen that radiates towards the back
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Unexplained loss of appetite 
  • Passing light-coloured or pale stools
  • Itchiness and rashes 
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar 
  • The dark colour of urine 

When should you see a Specialist?
It is advisable to see a specialist as soon as you detect any of the above-mentioned symptoms. All these just points towards the possibility of you having pancreatic cancer but are not definitive. In order to confirm whether a patient has pancreatic cancer or not, doctors perform some physical examinations and tests. The sooner you consult a specialist, the quicker will be your diagnosis leading to better treatment outcomes.

What causes Pancreatic Cancer? 
There is no specific cause that can be pinpointed and it can be the result of several factors that can disrupt the normal functioning of the DNA, leading to abnormal cell reproduction. Factors that are known to cause such changes in the DNA of pancreatic cells to include:

  • Excessive smoking
  • Uncontrolled diabetes 
  • Having chronic pancreatitis 
  • Having a family history of pancreatic cancer 
  • Having a personal history 
  • Having certain genetic conditions like Lynch syndrome 
  • Unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits 

Modalities used for the diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer 

  • Blood analysis 
  • Computerized tomography or CT scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI
  • PET scan 
  • EUS or endoscopic ultrasound
  • Tissue biopsy 

Treatment options available for Pancreatic Cancer

  • Surgery (procedures like pancreaticoduodenectomy, distal pancreatectomy and total pancreatectomy)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted drug therapy 
  • Immunotherapy 

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