Pancreatic Cancer: Everything You Need To Know


What Is Pancreatic Cancer?

In pancreatic cancer, there is an uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells in the body. When cancer starts in the pancreas, it is a cancer of the pancreas or pancreatic cancer. The tumor progresses and affects the normal functioning of the pancreas.

People experience almost no symptoms during the initial stage of the disease. That's the reason why the condition becomes unmanageable in the advanced stages.

Some Facts About Pancreatic Cancer

In the United States of America, nearly 3% of the cancer cases are pancreatic cancer. About 56770 people will have pancreatic cancer, according to the latest survey. It is the fourth major cause of death by cancer among men and women in the U.S. 

Pancreatic cancer is the tenth most widespread type of cancer in men and the ninth most common cancer in women. Moreover, 7% of all cancer deaths are due to pancreatic cancer only. 

What Causes Pancreatic Cancer?

1. Gene Mutation

It is not entirely clear what causes pancreatic cancer. Although certain factors can significantly increase the risk of disease. These factors include:

In some cases, people inherit a gene mutation that causes pancreatic cancer. These gene mutations can also increase the risk of other health conditions as well. These medical ailments can be the cause of pancreatic cancer. 

In most of the cases, the cancer of the pancreas is acquired, not inherited. The acquired gene mutation can result from the susceptibility to cancer-causing chemicals, like tobacco smoke. Some of the random events in the body can also cause such variations in the genes. 

2. Gender

Men are at a higher risk of getting pancreatic cancer than women. 

3. Environmental Contamination

Exposure to specific environmental contaminants can raise your risk of pancreatic cancer. Dyes, pesticides, and chemical substances utilized in metal refining contain the carcinogen. It damages the cell and makes them incapable of functioning normally. It may result in the formation of tumors in the body. 

4. Age

People over the age of 60 are at a considerable risk of getting cancer of the pancreas as compared to youngsters. 

5. Lifestyle

Following are the lifestyle factors that can raise the risk of pancreatic cancer:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Excessive alcohol consumption can cause chronic causes, which is one of the significant risk factors for cancer of the pancreas.
  • Other medical disorders

There is a strong association between pancreatic cancer and several other medical disorders. It includes:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Gingivitis
  • Chronic Pancreatitis
  • Stomach ulcer

What Are The Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer?

  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the back or abdomen
  • Paleness of eyes or skin or both
  • Starting of the diabetic condition
  • Changes in stool
  • Blood clots
  • Muscle spasms
  • Night chills 

How Is Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosed?

The doctor will ask for your updated medical records and take a physical exam. You may also undergo certain tests that will determine the root cause of your pancreatic cancer. Reasons may vary from person to person. Determining the purpose of the disease will help your physician to provide you with the most suitable medication and treatment. 

Following tests are performed for the people living with pancreatic cancer:

CT Scan: Computerized Tomography Scan or CT Scan is known to be one of the most effective ways to diagnose pancreatic cancer. CT scan enables viewing of the entire abdominal organs and thus can be utilized to determine the spread of disease to lymph nodes, liver, and other nearby organs. X Rays are being used in a CT scan to take cross-sectional pictures of the body. 

If your doctor believes that you may have pancreatic cancer, you need to undergo a particular type of CT scan called Pancreatic Protocol CT Scan or Multiphase CT Scan. You will be given an intravenous vaccination, and different CT scan results over several minutes will be monitored. 

MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses strong magnets or radio waves to create more detailed images of different organs in your body. In an MRI scan, each organ is photographed multiple times. The computer then uses each of the pictures to create a three-dimensional image of each of the organs. 

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Doctors prefer MRI over CT scans as tumors that don't appear on a CT scan show up on MRI. Also, CT scan uses certain contrast dyes that some of the people are allergic with. Those people can go for MRI tests and detect the presence of cancerous cells in the body.

Particular types of MRI scans can also help to diagnose pancreatic cancer:

  • MRA


MR Angiography checks blood vessels against abnormalities. It uses radio waves, a strong magnetic field, and a computer. In this exam, no radiations are utilized, and so you are less likely to develop allergies. The doctor injects contrast substances in the body to identify the presence of tumors. 

  • MRCP


Tumors usually develop in the pancreas or bile duct. In Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography or MRCP, these organs are photographed to detect blockages in the bile duct and the presence of pancreatic cysts. 

Laparoscopy: Patients are given short anesthesia during this exam. The doctor will make many small incisions in the body and then inserts a laparoscope to look inside your abdomen. The laparoscope is a long flexible tube that detects the presence of cancer cells by photographing the body organs. 

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography(ERCP): ERCP takes the pictures of the digestive tract, including the pancreas. In this, the doctor injects a thin tube containing a dye, which takes x-ray pictures of different body organs to diagnose the issue. The doctors do this test to detect the cancer of the pancreas or to relieve symptoms of the disease. 

Endoscopic Ultrasound: In this test, the doctor utilizes sound waves to photograph the bile duct, digestive tract, and pancreas. The doctor inserts a long, thin tube via the mouth of the patient that directs down to the stomach to the duodenum(first part of the small intestine). The duration of the test is between 15-45 minutes. 

Biopsy: In a biopsy, small samples of pancreatic tissue are removed through a needle or during surgery. The doctor then examines the tissue under a microscope to detect cancerous cells in the tissue. It can also determine the type of cancer one has. 

What Are The Treatments Available For Pancreatic Cancer?

There are specific alternatives available for the treatment of pancreatic cancer:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Surgery

The doctor utilizes certain drugs in chemotherapy to treat or relieve the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. While in radiation therapy, he uses some radiation as an x-ray to kill the cancerous cells in the body. Surgery is done by the doctor to eliminate the tumor or decrease the symptoms of the disease.