BACKGROUND: Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas — an organ in the abdomen that lies horizontally behind the lower part of the stomach. The pancreas secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it's a leading cause of cancer death. Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and surgical removal isn't possible. (Source: www.mayoclinic.com)
SYMPTOMS: Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don't occur until the disease is advanced. When signs and symptoms do appear, they may include:
Upper abdominal pain that may radiate to your back
- Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Blood clots
RISK FACTORS: No one understands the underlying causes of pancreatic cancer, but certain risk factors have been identified, such as:
Diabetes: People with diabetes are not necessarily more likely to get pancreatic cancer but the two have been linked.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking is well known to increase the risk for pancreatic cancer. The more a person smokes, the higher the risk.
- Diet: A diet high in fat and meat (especially smoked or processed meat) has been linked to pancreatic cancer in animal studies. Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables decreased pancreatic cancer risk
TREATMENT: The best treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on how far it has spread, or its stage. The stages of pancreatic cancer are easy to understand. What is difficult is attempting to stage pancreatic cancer without resorting to major surgery. In practice, doctors choose pancreatic cancer treatments based upon imaging studies, surgical findings, and an individual’s general state of wellbeing. (Source: www.webmed.com)