Many in the medical community consider pancreatic cancer to have one stage: advanced. Granted, knowledge-wise they know better, but in practice they tend to think differently because there are no symptoms associated with the earlier stages of pancreatic cancer. The disease also cannot be found through medical testing in the beginning. Yet, there are definitive stages of pancreatic cancer that those who might be at risk should know about.
But before you can understand the specific stages of pancreatic cancer, you need to understand how the ‘stage system’ works in the world of cancer. The stages of pancreatic cancer, like the stages of any other type of cancer are broken down into four components. The label of the stage begins with the letter T and ends with a number 1 through 4. T stands for ‘Tumor’ while the number simply indicates the particular stage the cancer is at. For example, if the current stage of pancreatic cancer is at T1, it will be only 2 centimeters and cause no symptoms. If it is at T2, it is larger than 2 centimeters, yet there are still no symptoms. However, when the stages of pancreatic cancer reach T3, there will be some major symptoms, such as jaundice or weight loss. And when the stages of pancreatic cancer reaches T4, the sufferer will die very soon, since the cancer has spread to their blood vessels and lymph nodes.
With that being said, how can the average person use their knowledge of the stages of pancreatic cancer to try and prevent getting the disease period? Well, even if a person wanted to get tested for at the first stage of pancreatic cancer, the tumor would be too small to see through ultrasound or other methods that are commonly used for detecting pancreatic cancer. And doctors probably won’t do surgery on a ‘suspicion’ that a person may have the first stage of pancreatic cancer, especially since there are no symptoms associated with it.
However, if a person can get their pancreatic cancer diagnosed at the very beginning of the third stage of pancreatic cancer, their odds of survival might be increased slightly, (perhaps 1 percent or so). At T3 the cancer is big enough to be seen through medical testing, but not as extreme as it would be if it were at T4. Yet, even catching pancreatic cancer at T3 isn’t a perfect solution since the general rule of thumb is when there are symptoms, the cancer is advanced… period.
There might be hope in the future that pancreatic cancer might be treatable in T1 or T2 stages. Though the technology is not used for that right now, there are medical situations in which doctors can see the inside of the body through special ‘camera’ pills. The person swallows the pill, and the doctor can see the inside of their stomach. For pancreatic cancer the medical community would have to consider inserting the device through surgery, since it would not be reachable through oral ingestion. Granted, it’s just a theory, but definitely something that the medical community should think about when trying to find ways to fight the earlier stages of pancreatic cancer.