Pancreatic cancer is a malignant condition that originates in cells of the pancreas, (an abdominal organ that lies parallel, just behind the lower portion of the stomach). The pancreas release enzymes that assist in the process of digestion, and secrete hormones that control the metabolism of glucose.
How is Pancreatic Cancer Formed?
Cancer of the pancreas occurs when the cells in the pancreas undergo genetic mutation. The mutation causes the cells to multiply and replicate autonomously and uncontrollably, and to continue living after normal cells would die. The accumulating cells then result in the formation of a tumor mass. The cancer may spread to surrounding and distant organs as well.
The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is not yet known. However, research says that the common triggers for the malignancy are: smoking, obesity, diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, and a strong family history of the disease.
Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms
Pancreatic cancer symptoms may be non existent or obscure during the initial stage of the disease. The pancreatic cancer symptoms become apparent only after the malignancy has progressed to an advanced stage.
The important pancreatic cancer symptoms are:
• Upper abdominal pain that radiates to the back is one of the commonly seen pancreatic cancer symptoms.
• Jaundice or yellowing of the skin and white of the eyes occurs
• Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite
• Blood clots
• Depression is common
You must visit your doctor if you experience inexplicable weight reduction, abdominal pain, jaundice, or other symptoms that bother you. Early diagnosis of the case helps start the treatment promptly, and improves prognosis.
Treating Pancreatic Cancer
The treatment for pancreatic cancer depends up on the stage of the malignancy, location of the cancer, extent of spread, as well as the patient’s age, general health status and his preferences.
The principal goal of the treatment regimen is to get rid of the tumor mass, when possible. When that is no longer an option (i.e. in case of extensive spread and metastasis), the focus is on preventing the pancreatic cancer from enlarging or causing greater harm.
By and large the treatment comprises of surgical intervention to remove the tumor mass, chemotherapy to annihilate the cancer cells and radiation therapy to destroy and prevent the replicating of the cancerous cells.