Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer pain

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Malignant tumors on the pancreas can be deadly. The most shocking thing about pancreatic cancer is that in most cases the symptoms are not evident until the cancer reaches an advanced stage. Another fact about pancreatic cancer is that it is probably the only type of cancer for which the 5-year-survival rate hasn’t improved. In fact, it has the lowest survival rate among all the other cancer types. The mortality rate of pancreatic cancer is as high as 95%.
The facts about pancreatic cancer reveal one very important thing. It is probably the deadliest cancer known to humans. It is a silent killer, aka, most people are unaware that they suffer from cancer until the last stage. The most common symptom is abdominal pain, which is not a very clear and definitive sign. In most cases, it is misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed.
Pancreatic cancer is probably the deadliest cancer to occur in the human body. The 5-year-survival rate is a disappointing 5%. That means 95% of people with pancreatic cancer succumb to the disease. The striking fact that makes pancreatic cancer lethal is that it remains undetected during the initial stages (where it can be treated). Only at the advanced stages is it usually diagnosed. Most symptoms and early signs of pancreatic cancer are often confused with usual gastric disorders - diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and heartburn.
Though smoking and drinking increase the risk of pancreatic cancer manifold, there might be other factors too that can push you in the pancreatic cancer high risk zone. Obesity is one such significant factor. Not only does it increase your risk of getting cancer, but it also increases the risk of death by pancreatic cancer. Exposure to toxic chemicals, existing pancreatic diseases (including diabetes),and even family history of pancreatic cancer can put you at high risk.

Overview of Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is one of the most essential organs of the body which is responsible for the production of enzyme-containing juice (pancreatic juice) that help in the breakdown of food matter prior to digestion. It is also responsible for the production of essential hormones. Any abnormalities in the functioning of the pancreas may be associated with “pancreatic cancer”, a disease that is affecting the lives of millions. According to estimates by American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer will affect nearly 55,440 people this year. It accounts for 3% of all cancers (in the United States) and demands attention from health organizations all over the globe.

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic CancerPancreatic cancer is the medical condition in which abnormal cell growth occurs in the pancreas leading to the formation of solidified mass (tumors).

These tumors are confined to the site of origin in the initial stage but rapidly proliferate to the other organs of the body as well.

Pancreatic cancer can affect any of the two types of pancreatic cells viz – exocrine cells (comprising exocrine glands and ducts) and endocrine cells (forming the islet of Langerhans). Any kind of pancreatic disease if left undiagnosed in the early stages can spread to other vital organs and give rise to numerous clinical complications.

What causes pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic Cancer locationThe etiological factors behind pancreatic diseases are listed below-

  • Tobacco: Excess tobacco consumption via active or passive smoking increases risks of pancreatic cancer. Tobacco intake accounts for 20-30% of all cancers in the pancreas.
  • Obesity: Overweight people are 20% more susceptible to pancreas cancers.
  • Toxicity: Exposure to certain toxic chemicals (in case of factory and blast furnace workers) can induce malignancy in the pancreas.
  • Age: Natural degeneration of pancreatic cells may occur with age, causing pancreatic dysfunctions.
  • Gender: Men are more prone to pancreatic cancer conditions than women due to excess tobacco consumption and a few other factors.
  • Ethnicity: Possibility of pancreas cancer is slightly higher in African Americans than Asians or native Americans.
  • Heredity: A familial history of pancreatic cancer predisposes the future generations to the disease mainly due to mutations in the PRSS1 gene.
  • Existing diseases: Few existing and chronic diseases such as pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis, and Type 2 Diabetes can increase risks of pancreatic cancer.
  • Diet: A regular diet rich in processed red meats and deficient in fruits, vegetable, and dietary fibres may contribute to pancreatic cancer.
  • Substance abuse: Excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine or narcotics falls in this category.
  • Physical activities: Limited physical activity can be a major contributing factor.

What are the warning signs and symptoms?

Pancreatic cancer symptoms may be mistaken for symptoms of other diseases in the initial stages, but in the advanced stages, few obvious symptoms are noticed-

  • Yellowish discoloration of the skin and white portion of the eye (jaundice symptoms)
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Brownish discoloration of the urine along with a strong odor
  • Nausea, vomiting and weight loss (observed in 35-45% of  patients)
  • General body weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal pain and cramps that slowly radiate to the back and shoulders (observed in 75-90% patients)
  • The occurrence of blood clots causing swelling and reddish discoloration (Venous Thromboembolism)
  • Diarrhea and cramps immediately after eating (indicators of pancreatic insufficiency)
  • Enlargement of gallbladder or liver (due to bile duct obstruction causing bile accumulation)
  • Formation of uneven fatty tissue layer under the skin (due to the release of fat-digesting enzymes)
  • Indigestion and heartburn

Different types of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is broadly classified into the following categories-

Exocrine pancreatic cancer: It affects the cells present in exocrine glands and ducts. About 95% of this type of cancer belongs to the pancreatic adenocarcinoma category that develops in the pancreatic ducts. Another subtype is ampullary cancer that occurs at the point of meeting of the bile duct and pancreatic duct ( ampulla of Vater). Few other rare forms of exocrine cancers include-

  • Acinar cell carcinoma: It is manifested as prominent skin rashes and joint pain.
  • Papillary mucinous neoplasm: Here the tumors grow as finger-like projections in the pancreatic ducts and discharges high quantity of mucous that may cause duct enlargement.
  • Mucinous cystic neoplasm: These are characterized by enlarged cysts filled with thick mucus.
  • Pancreatoblastoma: This is closely associated with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome and is observed in children.

Endocrine pancreatic cancer: They account for less than 5% of all pancreatic cancer and occur mostly in the islet cells. They may belong to any of the following categories-

  • Gastrinomas: They originate from cells making gastrin.
  • Insulinomas: They are caused by cells producing insulin.
  • Glucagonomas: They originate from cells producing glucagon.
  • Somatostatinomas: They originate from cells producing somatostatin.
  • VIPomas: They come from cells making Vasoactive Intestinal Peptitde (VIP).
  • PPomas: They come from cells making Pancreatic Polypeptide (PP).

Stages of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer invades the body through the following stages-

  • Stage I: Tumour is present only within the pancreas.
  • Stage II: Tumor penetrates the adjoining tissues but not blood vessels.
  • Stage III: The tumor invades the neighboring blood vessels.
  • Stage IV: Tumours spread to remote organs such as lungs and liver.

What are the recommended diagnostic tests?

Pancreatic Cancer painAccurate diagnosis of pancreatic cancers is essential in order to facilitate proper treatment. The following diagnostic tests are usually recommended for pancreatic cancers-

  • CT scan of the pancreas: It helps to examine abnormal cell growth in the pancreas. It also helps to detect the spread of cancerous tumors to other organs.
  • MRI scan: It comprises of MR cholangiopancreatography (MCP) to examine pancreatic and bile ducts and MR angiography (MRA) for examining the blood vessels.
  • Ultrasound: It comprises of abdominal ultrasound (to analyze abdominal dysfunctions) and Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) for more accurate examination of the pancreas.

Treatment and prevention

Treatment 

Surgery

  • Surgery for the tumor in the pancreatic head –This procedure is called pancreaticoduodenectomy. Here the Whipple procedure is done. In this procedure, the surgeon will remove a part of the small intestine, gallbladder and the head of the pancreas. At the time, a part of the stomach and the surrounding lymph nodes are removed as well.
  • Surgery for a tumor in the pancreatic body and tail – This surgery is called distal pancreatectomy. Here the surgeon will remove the left side of the pancreas and the spleen.
  • Surgery to remove the pancreas – This surgical method is called total pancreatectomy. Here the entire pancreas is removed.
  • Surgery for tumor affecting the nearby blood vessels – This treatment method is done for selective patients. Here, the blood vessels near the tumor in the pancreas are reconstructed and attached back in their place. This surgery is done for those patients who have an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer.

Radiation therapy – Here high power beams target the area of the cancer cells and destroy them. Thereby treating pancreatic cancer.

Chemotherapy – Cancer-killing drugs are given orally or intravenously to help treat pancreatic cancer.

Support (palliative) care – This method of treatment is advised as soon as the cancer is detected. Here, a team of specialists will assist the patients in how to go about their lives and provide an extra support for the cancer patient. This treatment method along with other aggressive treatment methods can make the patient feel better and aid in the recovery process.

Prevention

  • Do not smoke, as smoking can seriously damage the pancreas.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle; doing so can lower the risks of developing this condition.
  • Consume clean and healthy foods. This will ensure a healthy digestion and put a lesser strain on the pancreas.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, doing so does not put excessive strain on the pancreas that could lead to cancerous stages.

TL;DR?

Facts

  • Pancreatic cancer is known as a silent disease. As the signs and symptoms of the cancer are generally not noticed until cancer has reached its advanced stage.
  • In the past 40 years, the survival rates for all types of cancers have increased except for pancreatic cancer and renal cancer.

Facts

  • More than 37,000 deaths by pancreatic cancer were reported in the USA in 2012.
  • The lifetime risk of pancreatic cancer in men is 1 in 63 and in women it is 1 in 65.

Facts

  • The 5-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is 3-6% which is the lowest among all cancers.
  • 70% of cases of pancreatic cancer report abdominal pain as the major symptom. Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer are very vague and difficult to diagnose.

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Malignant tumors on the pancreas can be deadly. The most shocking thing about pancreatic cancer is that in most cases the symptoms are not evident until the cancer reaches an advanced stage. Another fact about pancreatic cancer is that it is probably the only type of cancer for which the 5-year-survival rate hasn’t improved. In fact, it has the lowest survival rate among all the other cancer types. The mortality rate of pancreatic cancer is as high as 95%.
The facts about pancreatic cancer reveal one very important thing. It is probably the deadliest cancer known to humans. It is a silent killer, aka, most people are unaware that they suffer from cancer until the last stage. The most common symptom is abdominal pain, which is not a very clear and definitive sign. In most cases, it is misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed.
Pancreatic cancer is probably the deadliest cancer to occur in the human body. The 5-year-survival rate is a disappointing 5%. That means 95% of people with pancreatic cancer succumb to the disease. The striking fact that makes pancreatic cancer lethal is that it remains undetected during the initial stages (where it can be treated). Only at the advanced stages is it usually diagnosed. Most symptoms and early signs of pancreatic cancer are often confused with usual gastric disorders - diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and heartburn.
Though smoking and drinking increase the risk of pancreatic cancer manifold, there might be other factors too that can push you in the pancreatic cancer high risk zone. Obesity is one such significant factor. Not only does it increase your risk of getting cancer, but it also increases the risk of death by pancreatic cancer. Exposure to toxic chemicals, existing pancreatic diseases (including diabetes),and even family history of pancreatic cancer can put you at high risk.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Join a support group, to help you cope with the condition and the treatment process.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle; do so can help in making the treatment process more manageable.
  • Exercise regularly, doing so can help in the regaining muscle strength along with improving overall fitness
Don'ts
  • Consume oily and sweet food during breakfast; they tend to increase the fat levels in your body.
  • Consume processed and refined foods.
  • Have big and heavy meals; break them down into smaller meals. This will help the digestive system break down complex food without straining the pancreas.

 

 

 

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Cardiac Profile Cardiac profile is panel of blood tests performed to check cholesterol level and other heart disease markers to…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
liver cleanse detox
14 go-to foods that are best for a complete natural liver detox Liver cleanse can be achieved by just choosing or avoiding certain types of food. Liver itself is a detoxifying…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
Cottage cheese: What can you find in this healthy chunk of fresh milk cheese? Love cheese but scared of putting on extra pounds? With cottage cheese, you can get the best of…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
Unbelievable health benefits of gooseberries (and a few tasty recipes) Gooseberries are antioxidant-rich tasty fruits that can be easily added in daily diet to improve overall health and…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…