Stage4 pancreatic cancer refers to the degree of the cancer. Stages are usually classified tumor, node and metastases or T, N, and M. Additionally 1, 11 or 111 to indicate how large the pancreatic mass is and whether operable or not. Metastatic pancreatic cancer is where the cancer has spread to the liver or other organs. Pancreatic cancer treatment is offered at all stages, though operable pancreatic cancer is staged as 1 or 11.
Stage4 or Metastatic pancreatic cancer can spread to the bowel, stomach or distant parts in the body. These may include the bones, liver, lungs, or other sites. At times, it can only be recognized as stage4 pancreatic cancer after surgery is completed (whipple procedure).
Patients diagnosed with stage4 pancreatic cancer can be further divided into two groups of stage4A pancreatic cancer. This is where the pancreatic cancer is limited to the pancreas, but involves nearby organs or blood vessels, which hampers surgical removal. And stage 4B pancreatic cancer. This is where it has spread to distant organs, most commonly the liver.
The aim in the treatment of people in the first group is to induce a remission, or a disease-free period, which can last months or years. Care of people in the second stage is often aimed at relieving symptoms and the pain of the cancer. Treatments for stage 4A pancreatic cancer may include palliative surgery, chemotherapy, or a mixture of chemotherapy and radiation provided together. Chemotherapy is the administering of anti-cancer medications, which destroy cancer cells all through the body. Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to eradicate cancer cells at the part in the body where the x-rays are aimed. Occasionally, surgery can be used to ease complications of the cancer, such as intestinal blockage, jaundice, or pain, giving improved quality of life.
Stage4B pancreatic cancer sufferers are offered treatment with chemotherapy to prolong their life and ease symptoms from progressive cancer. Pain relief and maintaining nutrition are invaluable at this stage. Pain relief can be attained by damaging the nerves that give feeling in the area around the pancreas, usually by injecting with alcohol or other chemicals either through the skin or during abdominal surgery.
Pancreatic cancer weight loss can be a problem. This is because having cancer changes your metabolism. Consequently, the body needs many more calories than are normally eaten each day. Also, it can be difficult to eat or drink enough because of the symptoms of the disease or side effects of the treatment.
Medication can be prescribed to counteract these symptoms. Another problem, which may lead to pancreatic cancer weight loss in stage4 pancreatic cancer, can be pancreatic insufficiency. This is because the body no longer secretes enough pancreatic enzymes and the food eaten is not fully digested. This can cause cramping and diarrhea and if it continues for a long time weight loss will follow due to the lack of nutrients. This is easily resolved by taking pancreatic enzymes with your food.
During stage4 pancreatic cancer, you may find some of the many alternative therapies beneficial. This is also a very good time to join a pancreatic cancer support group or one of the many online support websites available.