Pancreas is a gland located deep inside stomach cavity, in between the stomach and spine. It’s of a curved shape, made out of three main parts – head, body and tail. It’s main task is to produce insulin, which is a substance controlling the level of blood sugar as well as some other hormones which are assisting food digestion. Pancreas also produces digestion acids which are made out of enzymes and other important substances which help to properly digest any food you intake.
Pancreatic cancer is not as common as some other types of cancer, but the percentage of treated cases is the least. It shows symptoms and disturbances late into its development and when it’s discovered in most cases it has already reached an advanced stage and it isn’t possible to remove it surgically. More than 95% of patients die within two years after diagnosis.
Studies have shown these as significant risk factors: elderly age (frequency of pancreatic cancer rises with age, most common being for people older than 60), smoking (there is a 2-3 times higher chance of getting a pancreatic cancer if you are a smoker), diet rich with fats, lean with fruits and vegetables, obesity, lack of physical activity as well as some earlier conditions such as inflammation of the pancreas, diabetes or liver cirrhosis. Men acquire this condition more commonly, as well as people who had someone from their closer family to suffer from this condition. There are proofs about some specific substances in working environments increasing the chances for one to acquire pancreatic cancer.
Symptoms of the condition appear or are ignorable until the disease reaches an advanced stage. Once they do appear, symptoms highly depend on location and the size of the tumor. Commonly, one can experience pain in the upper part of the stomach or on the back, spreading under the blade bones, being particularly more intensive after a meal or while lying down. Overall weakness, loss of appetite and a significant loss of weight are characteristic for pancreatic cancer. Noxiousness and vomiting may also be present, even a long time after the meal has been taken. One type of tumor can cause disturbances in the amount of excreted insulin or other hormones which can cause a whole list of disturbances in terms of food digestion, especially of fatty foods.
Severe depression is usually the first symptom of the condition.
Diagnosis is done over biopsy, where a sample of the tissue is taken by a needle through the skin or during surgery. This sample is then taken for further analysis under the microscope.
Treatment procedures highly depend on where the tumor has spread and its location, the patient’s age, general health and physical condition of the patient. As the condition is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage so the mission of treatment is to reduce the difficulties and any accompanying problems in order to improve the patient’s life quality. Surgical treatment for a complete removal of the tumor is possible for less than 15% of patients. There are three types of surgeries which are all very complex and with a lot of possible complications. Pancreas may be removed, as well as a part of the stomach, the gall bladder and gall leads, or is it possible to remove the entire pancreas or even only one of its segments which houses the tumor.
After the surgery it is necessary to take replacement insulin as well as some other hormones which were excreted by the pancreas.
Other types of treatment may include radiation. However, radiation is usually used as an accompanying type of treatment in order to reduce the difficulties the patient is having. Chemotherapy is definitely one of the most common methods of assisting treatment, as some new medications are proving to be highly efficient for a better overall prognosis. For a short while it is possible to improve life quality and reduce the difficulties the patients are having.
Some recent studies from the Peggy and Charles Stephenson institute in Oklahoma have shown some promising discoveries about efficient prevention methods for the pancreatic cancer to remain in a less dangerous phase. Gefitinibe is a medication which used in small dosages can actually stop the pancreatic cancer from advancing further into the dangerous zone. Some major successes were accomplished with samples of the cancer as it completely retracted in about 41 weeks from the start of the treatment.
How can one protect himself from acquiring pancreatic cancer? Despite the fact that there is a significant hereditary factor causing this tumor to happen, you can do a lot for prevention. To start with, you need to change your overall habits and behavior. Most important thing you need to do is to stop smoking, maintain a recommended body weight and consume a balanced diet, with lots of fruits, vegetables and plant oils. Animal fat and processed oils need to be avoided at all costs.
As it is with about 40% of other cancers, you can prevent pancreatic from happening with such an approach – trying to change bad habits and get as much of the new, beneficial ones as possible. High dosages of elements in traces can reduce the chance of one to acquire a fatal pancreatic cancer.
Selene and nickel are known to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer while high dosages of lead, arsenic can actually cause the condition to happen. Nickel has an effect on the amount of iron your body can absorb from the food you are consuming, so it’s vital for production of red blood cells. A good source of this element is oats and nuts. Selene is very important for the immunological system and reproduction and it can prevent your cells and tissues from getting damaged. A good source of this is Brazilian nuts, bread, fish, meat and eggs. Nutritionists consider that you can get more than enough of these preventive elements from the food you are consuming. People who have a higher level of nickel and Selene have about 50% less chance of ever acquiring pancreatic cancer.