Pancreatic Cancer: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

What is pancreatic cancer?

The pancreas is an organ that is located behind the lower portion of your stomach. Pancreatic cancer starts in the tissues of the pancreas. 

The pancreas can develop both malignant and non-cancerous tumours, among other growths. The cells that line the ducts that expel digestive enzymes from the pancreas are where the most prevalent type of pancreatic cancer first develops (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma).

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer typically doesn’t show any early symptoms in most people. Yet, when the illness worsens, some individuals may observe:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen that could move to the back
  • The skin and eye whites are becoming yellow (jaundice)
  • Tiredness
  • Appetite loss
  • Faeces of a light hue
  • Pee with a dark colour
  • Losing weight
  • In the body, blood clots
  • Skin itch
  • Diabetes that is either newly developed or getting worse
  • Vomiting and nauseous

What are the stages of pancreatic cancer

The stage or extent of pancreatic cancer determines the optimal course of treatment.

  • Phase 0: No spreading. Only the topmost cell layers in the pancreatic ducts can develop pancreatic cancer. During imaging tests or with the naked eye, pancreatic cancer cannot be seen.
  • Phase I: Local expansion. While just affecting the pancreas, pancreatic cancer has spread to a size of fewer than 2 centimetres (stage IA) or more than 2 centimetres but no larger than 4 cm (stage IB).
  • Phase II: Local dissemination. When pancreatic cancer grows to a diameter of 4 centimetres or more, it has either disseminated locally, where it has grown outside the pancreas, or it has spread to lymph nodes in the surrounding area. No distant locations have been affected by it.
  • Phase III: A wider distribution. Nonetheless, the tumour has not spread to distant areas despite the possibility that it has grown into surrounding major blood arteries or nerves.
  • Phase IV: Verified spread is seen. Organs far away have been affected by pancreatic cancer.

What about Pancreatic cancer treatment?

  • The use of radiation

High-energy beams from sources like X-rays and protons are used in radiation treatment to kill cancer cells. Before or after undergoing cancer surgery, radiation therapies are possible; sometimes, they are combined with chemotherapy. 

  • Surgery
    • You might think about undergoing an operation known as a Whipple procedure if your pancreatic cancer is in the head.
    • Distal pancreatectomy is the name of the procedure used to remove tumours from the body and tail of the pancreas on the left.
    • It might be necessary to remove the complete pancreas in some patients. Total pancreatectomy is the term used for this. While it is possible to live without a pancreas, you would require long-term insulin and enzyme supplementation.
    • When a tumour is close to blood vessels, surgeries that involve removing and rebuilding damaged blood vessels are performed.
  • Chemotherapy 

Drugs are used in chemotherapy to assist eradicate cancer cells. These medications can be ingested or administered intravenously. One chemotherapy drug or a mix of them may be offered to you. Radiation therapy can be coupled with chemotherapy (chemoradiation).

  • Palliative care

It is a type of specialist medical treatment that concentrates on relieving pain and other severe sickness symptoms. To add an extra level of support to your ongoing medical care, palliative care professionals collaborate with you, your family, and your other doctors.
Chennai Liver Foundation offers a range of pancreatic cancer treatments in Chennai for varying stages of the disease.

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