Pancreatic Cancer

What Is Pancreatic Cancer ?

Pancreatic cancer starts off when the cells of the pancreas begin to grow and divide uncontrollably. Pancreas is an organ behind the lower part of the stomach. Pancreas is responsible for the production of enzymes which help digestion and also helps to keep your blood sugar in control. There could be a variety of growths in the pancreas either cancerous or non-cancerous. The most common kind of cancer in the pancreas is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, it is the one that starts in the lining of pancreatic ducts which are responsible for carrying the digestive enzymes out of the pancreas. The early stages of pancreatic cancer usually show no signs and hence it is difficult to manage once diagnosed.

Types Of Pancreatic Cancer

There are mainly two types of Pancreatic cancer depending on which function it has affected:

Exocrine Pancreatic Cancer: The Tumors which affect the exocrine functionality are the most common type of pancreatic cancer. The most common type of exocrine tumor is adenocarcinoma.

Endocrine Pancreatic Cancer: The Tumors which impact the endocrine functionality are called islet cells Tumors or neuroendocrine tumours.They are much less common than exocrine Tumors, making up about 7% of all pancreatic cancer.

Risk Factors For Pancreatic Cancer

You could be at an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in the event that you

  • Smoke cigarettes.
  • Are obese
  • Have a fat filled diet
  • Are Diabetic
  • Have Liver damage.
  • Are exposed to chemicals or pesticides.
  • Have family history of pancreatic Cancer.

Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer May Include:

  • Jaundice
  • Pain in upper abdomen or upper back
  • Stomach bloating
  • New onset of diabetes or uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Pale color stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chills and sweats
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss

How Is Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosed ?

The following tests can help diagnose pancreatic cancer

  • Blood Tests
  • CT Scan
  • PET Scan
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC).
  • Biopsy

Molecular testing of the tumor: You may be recommended, additional molecular testing on the tumor sample to look for changes in specific genes and proteins. This will help to determine your treatment options, including targeted therapy.

In addition, Germline testing is now recommended to all people with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This means testing a blood or saliva sample to look for mutations in a person's DNA that may indicate a hereditary predisposition to cancer.

Treatment For Pancreatic Cancer

Based on the size and stage of the cancer, the treatment plan could include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy: There are different ways that radiation therapy can be given:
    • EBRT
    • SBRT
    • Proton beam therapy