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The cancer that grows inside the pancreas is known as pancreatic cancer. Pancreas is the gland that is about 6 inches long that makes hormones including the enzymes responsible for controlling blood sugar and also helps in digesting food. The development of pancreatic cancer starts when the cells inside the pancreas grow out of control. This cancer may metastasize or spread top surrounding organs and lymph nodes such as lungs and liver.
Tail : It is the end of the pancreas close to the spleen
Head : It is a part of the pancreas near to liver ducts and small bowel
Body : It is the middle of the pancreas
The majority of pancreatic cancers start in the exocrine cells. Pancreatic cancer is often called a "silent" disease because it rarely shows early symptoms and presents non-specific later symptoms. Tumors of the pancreas cancers are usually too small to cause symptoms. However, when the cancer grows, symptoms include:
Pain in the upper abdomen from the tumor pushing against nerves.
Enlarged liver and gallbladder.
Significant weight loss and weakness.
Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
Sudden onset of glucose tolerance disorder, such as diabetes.
Black or bloody stool, indicating bleeding from the digestive tract
Imaging tests : Imaging tests may include CT and MRI.
Blood test : Your doctor may test your blood for specific proteins (tumor markers) shed by pancreatic cancer cells.
Ultrasound : An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your body.
Computerised Tomography (CT) Scan : A computerised tomography (CT) scan is able to produce a detailed image of the inside of your body using a series of X-ray images.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan : A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan also produces an image of the inside of your body, but uses strong magnetic and radio waves instead of X-ray images.
Endoluminal Ultrasonography (EUS) : If a small shadow is seen on a CT or MRI scan but it is not obvious what this is, another test can be performed called endoluminal ultrasonography (EUS
Biopsy : A biopsy is a procedure to remove a small sample of tissue from the pancreas for examination under a microscope. A biopsy sample can be obtained by inserting a needle through your skin and into your pancreas (fine-needle aspiration). Or it can be done using endoscopic ultrasound to guide special tools into your pancreas where a sample of cells can be obtained for testing.
Laparoscopy : Uses a lighted tube with a video camera to explore your pancreas and surrounding tissue. The surgeon passes the laparoscope through an incision in your abdomen. The camera on the end of the scope transmits video to a screen in the operating room. This allows your doctor to look for signs cancer has spread within your abdomen.
There are different types of surgeries that help in removing the pancreatic cancer. These surgeries are further categorized into-
Curative that helps in treating the cancer by removing it
Palliative that helps in easing the symptoms
Pancreaticoduodenectomy : This is considered as the most common surgery for removing a pancreatic tumor. This surgery is also termed as Whipple procedure that removes –
Part of the common bile duct
Head of the pancreas
Body of the pancreas
Lymph nodes close to the pancreas
Part of the stomach
A small part of the jejunum
Total Pancreatectomy : This procedure involves the removal of the spleen and the complete pancreas.
Distal Pancreatectomy : This procedure involves the removal of a part of the body of the pancreas and tail of the pancreas. It also removes the spleen. This procedure is more commonly used with islet cell tumors.
Gastric Bypass : When the stomach has been blocked by the cancer then it is sewn with the small intestine. This process allows a patient to eat normally.
Stent Placement : In order to avoid blockage, the insertion of the metal tubes is done that helps in keeping the bile duct open.
Biliary Bypass : A small surgical cut is made in the bile duct or gallbladder that is then sewed to the small intestine. This surgical procedure is helpful when the tumor has blocked small intestine and has caused bile to accumulate in the gallbladder. Pain is also relieved by the means of this procedure.
The minimally invasive surgical techniques of laparoscopy are normally used directly before a scheduled pancreatic resection to determine if a more invasive operation is the best course of action. Since metastases can sometimes be missed on CT, MRI or other imaging studies, laparoscopy is a reliable way to check for metastasis to other organs. If metastases are found and the surgeon decides an operation is not the best course of action, then the patient will have a shorter recovery time compared to that of a major surgery and will be in better shape to receive alternate forms of treatment.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to help kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be injected into a vein or taken orally. Chemotherapy can also be combined with radiation therapy (chemoradiation). Chemoradiation is typically used to treat cancer that has spread beyond the pancreas, but only to nearby organs and not to distant regions of the body. This combination may also be used after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence of pancreatic cancer.
It destroys cancer by focusing high-energy rays on the cancer cells. This causes damage to the molecules that make up the cancer cells and leads them to commit suicide. Unlike chemotherapy which is a systemic treatment, radiation therapy is a local treatment meant to destroy only tumor cells. During the treatment, a beam of radiation is directed through the abdomen to the cancerous area. The radiation is similar to that used for diagnostic X-rays, only in a higher dose.
Note: Treatment Options/Results may vary from patient to patient depending on their medical condition.