Pancreatic cancer: symptoms and treatment

Pancreatic cancer: symptoms and treatment


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Serious but relatively rare disease, the pancreatic cancer is associated with a number of risk factors. Know its characteristic symptoms, forms of treatment and survival time of patients diagnosed with this disease.

  • Where is the pancreas

  • Causes of pancreatic cancer

  • Symptoms of early pancreatic cancer

  • Back pain as a symptom of pancreatic cancer

  • Symptoms of the terminal stage of pancreatic cancer

  • Pancreatic cancer diagnosis

  • Liver metastasis pancreatic cancer

  • Treatment of pancreatic cancer

  • Lifespan of patients with pancreatic cancer

  • Pancreatic cancer is curable

Where is the pancreas

The pancreas is the abdominal gland located behind the stomach and above the kidneys. It consists of two parts with different functions: the exocrine part, responsible for the production of digestive enzymes, and the endocrine part, which produces hormones such as insulin and glucagon, which regulate the level of glucose in the blood.

Causes of pancreatic cancer

There are a wide range of risk factors for the appearance of pancreatic cancer. They are family history, genetic mutations, chronic pancreatitis and hereditary colorectal cancer. In addition, age (over 60), obesity, diabetes, smoking and alcohol abuse are also on the list.

Symptoms of early pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer in its early stages has symptoms such as jaundice, sudden weight loss, presence of fat in the stool, digestive disorders (nausea, vomiting and diarrhea), chest pain, difficulty breathing, typical signs of diabetes and inflammation of the pancreas.

Back pain as a symptom of pancreatic cancer

Another symptom of pancreatic cancer is a strong abdominal pain radiating to the back. This is due to the pressure exerted by the tumor in the pancreas on the other organs of the abdominal cavity. In general, this symptom arises at more advanced stages of the disease.

Symptoms of the terminal stage of pancreatic cancer

End-stage patients of pancreatic cancer, also called stage 4 disease, vomiting, nausea, severe pain throughout the abdominal region and severe itching.

Pancreatic cancer diagnosis

The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is made with clinical exams from the description of the symptoms. Then, you need imaging exams, such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance and endoscopy of the pancreatic channels. Endoscopy allows a biopsy of the pancreas and confirms the diagnosis.

Liver metastasis pancreatic cancer

The prognosis of pancreatic cancer is usually not very good because it is very difficult to detect in its early stages. In general, when the patient discovers the disease, the tumors are already in metastasis in other organs, such as liver and lungs. When there is metastasis, the disease is extremely lethal.

Treatment of pancreatic cancer

The treatment of pancreatic cancer will depend on when the diagnosis is made. An surgery it is recommended in cases where the cancer is restricted to the pancreas. In advanced and inoperable tumors, the solution is to chemotherapy. The definition of treatment is up to the specialist doctor. Pain relief can be done with pain relievers or morphine.

Lifespan of patients with pancreatic cancer

Only 5% of people with pancreatic cancer survive five years after diagnosis. Age plays a decisive role in the patient’s prognosis, with people under 55 with a higher life expectancy.

Pancreatic cancer is curable

Pancreatic cancer is a very serious condition, but there is specific treatment for it. The cure of the disease will depend fundamentally on the moment when the diagnosis was made. Early discoveries – where cancer is still restricted to the organ – are more likely to cure. In cases of metastasis to other regions of the body, the chances are significantly reduced.

Photo: © Lightspring – Shutterstock.com

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