Pancreatic cancer is a malicious tumor of the pancreas gland. It’s not as common as other types of cancer, with a degree of recovery being the lowest. The biggest issue with this cancer is particular is that it shows its symptoms really late, when it’s basically too late to do something significant about it. In this stage, it is impossible to have it surgically removed. More than 95% of patients will only live up to 2 years after diagnosis. The vast majority of cases are about an adenocarcinoma, while the rest includes tumors of different origin and nature. Most common risk factors are elderly age, smoking, diet rich with fats, lean on fruits and vegetables, obesity, reduced physical activity and earlier conditions such as pancreatitis, diabetes and liver cirrhosis.
Most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer don’t appear or are ignored until the disease has already advanced too far. When they do appear, their intensity and frequency depend on localization and the size of the tumor. The pain usually manifests itself in the upper part of the stomach or in the back, tending to radiate in the pelvis. It improves after a meal or in a lying position. General weakness, loss of appetite and a significant weight loss are all characteristic symptoms for pancreatic cancer. Noxiousness and vomiting can also make an appearance, even long after meals.
A specific type of pancreatic cancer can cause disturbances in the amount of insulin being excreted or other hormones, which then causes disturbances with food digestion, especially fatty foods. This also influences dissolving of sugar, which may cause diabetes to follow. Serious depression is usually the first symptoms of the disease.
Diagnosis and therapy
Most precise and cost effective method of diagnosis and rating the grade of the cancer is CT (computed tomography) which can show abnormalities in about 75% of cases. If it’s about a cancer which can’t be operated and has already metastasis floating around, punctual needle aspiration is done for histological analysis. If the CT doesn’t detect a tumor or it is inoperable, endoscopic ultrasound is used to discover smaller tumors and grade the degree of spread. Usual laboratory tests are normal, with 25 to 50% of cases to appear with hyperglycemia.
Partial removal of the pancreas is the only method of therapy which can lead to complete recovery, but this only takes about 15% of patients who have been diagnosed with this cancer, ending in about 3% of cases being completely curable. A five year survival period can happen with about 15-20% of patients diagnosed with this.
Researches have shown that smoking causes 20-30% of pancreatic cancer cases. It is recommended to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains with a decreased amount of red meat to be consumed. Vitamin D also reduces the risk of one to acquire pancreatic cancer, as well as B12 and B6. With all this combined you may have a higher chance of avoiding this cancer from happening to you, even though it has a strong genetic background to it as well.