Patient Information Leaflet

Here is a copy of our Pancreatic Cancer Patient Information Leaflet:

Pancreatic cancer is related to a malignant abnormal mass of tissue which is located in the pancreas. Unfortunately, estimates predict that in the United States alone more than forty-three thousand people will be affected by this particular condition and over thirty-six thousand will die with the disease before the end of 2010. It is difficult to diagnose because pancreatic cancer symptoms often do not present until the disease is in the advanced stages.

The pancreas is a very important part of the digestive system and regulates how the body processes sugar. It is also responsible for supplying the digestive juices necessary for the digestion of food. Cancer can occur when the pancreas develops genetically mutated cells that outlive their life span and these cells continue to grow and accumulate forming a tumor.

There are different types of pancreatic cancer because there are different types of cells within the organ. One type grows in cells responsible for digestive juices while the other is responsible for hormone production. Each type of cell is associated with its individual form of the disease.

Certain cells line the ducts of this organ and are responsible for digestive juices. These types of cells are commonly linked to adenocarcinomas. They may also be referred to as an exocrine tumor.

Hormone producing cells are also inside; specifically insulin producing cells. When these types of cells are affected it becomes known as endocrine cancer. This particular type is rare and affects less than one percent of all cases.

This type of cancer is often called the silent killer because pancreatic cancer symptoms do not present until the condition is serious. Some symptoms of pancreatic cancer that are likely to be experienced are pain in the upper abdomen that continues through to the back, loss of appetite, weight loss, blood clots, depression and yellowing of skin and around the whites of eyes.

Although these pancreatic cancer symptoms may also be related to other conditions, they are serious enough to see a physician. Testing will be done to determine the proper diagnosis. If cancer is present then the physician will assign it a stage and begin necessary treatment.

Stages are categorized in one through four; four being the most critical. Stage one indicates the presence of cancer within the pancreas. Stage two includes the presence within and its spread to organs and tissue nearby with the possibility of the lymph nodes included. Stage three means that cancer has spread to major blood vessels nearby and possibly the lymph nodes. Stage four acknowledges the spread of disease well beyond and to other organs.

Surgery is a likely treatment if the cancer is limited to the pancreas upon being diagnosed. Unfortunately in latter stages, surgery may not be an option and the only form of treatment may be keeping the individual comfortable in dealing with the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. There is no way to prevent this type of cancer, but to help with prevention it is best to quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight and exercise.

There are certain individuals who are more likely to develop this form of cancer. Individuals over the age of sixty are much more susceptible as well as those who suffer from diabetes and have a family history. It is advised for this group to pay closer attention to pancreatic cancer symptoms.