Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies horizontally behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help manage your blood sugar.This cancer typically spreads rapidly to nearby organs.
Cancer of the pancreas barely makes the top 10 most common cancers. However, the tendency to spread silently before diagnosis makes it the fourth deadliest cancer diagnosis, with more than 40,000 people dead of the disease in 2015.
Pancreatic cancer is a serious condition. Most cases of its have already spread at the time of diagnosis, making a full cure unlikely. Treatments can allow people to live longer with pancreatic cancer and improve their quality of life.
The exact cause of is unknown. it occurs when cells in the pancreas grow, divide, and spread uncontrollably, forming a malignant tumor.
a. Smoking of cigarette: – This is the major risk factor for pancreatic cancer – smoking roughly doubles the risk for this cancer when compared to non-smokers.
c. Age, race, and family history are other risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
There is no prevention for pancreatic cancer.
• Surgery-it is generally done to attempt to cure pancreatic cancer, but it may also be done to lessen or prevent symptoms.
• Radiation therapy
• Palliative care
These signs and symptoms only occurs when the disease is advanced. They may include:
• Pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to your back
• Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
• New-onset diabetes
• Blood clots
• Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
Understanding your pancreas
Your pancreas is about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and looks something like a pear lying on its side. It releases (secretes) hormones, including insulin, to help your body process sugar in the foods you eat. And it produces digestive juices to help your body digest food.
How pancreatic cancer forms
They occurs when cells in your pancreas develop mutations in their DNA. These mutations cause cells to grow uncontrollably and to continue living after normal cells would die. These accumulating cells can form a tumor. Untreated pancreatic cancer spreads to nearby organs and blood vessels.
Most pancreatic cancer begins in the cells that line the ducts of the pancreas. This type of cancer is called pancreatic adenocarcinoma or pancreatic exocrine cancer. Rarely, cancer can form in the hormone-producing cells or the neuroendocrine cells of the pancreas.
Factors that may increase your risk of pancreatic cancer include:
• Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
• Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome
• Family history of pancreatic cancer
A large study demonstrated that the combination of smoking, long-standing diabetes and a poor diet increases the risk of pancreatic cancer beyond the risk of any one of these factors alone.
Pancreatic cancer is classified according to which part of the pancreas is affected: the part that makes digestive substances (exocrine) or the part that makes insulin and other hormones (endocrine).
Exocrine Pancreatic Cancer
Other less common exocrine pancreatic cancers include:
• Adenosquamous carcinoma
• Squamous cell carcinoma
• Giant cell carcinoma
• Acinar cell carcinoma
• Small cell carcinoma
The exocrine pancreas makes up 95% of the pancreas, so it’s not surprising that most pancreatic cancers arise here.
Endocrine Pancreatic Cancer
Other cells of the pancreas make hormones that are released directly into the bloodstream (endocrine system). Cancerous tumors arising from these cells are called pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors or islet cell tumors.
Endocrine pancreatic cancers are uncommon, and are named according to the type of hormone produced:
• Insulinomas (from an insulin-producing cell)
• Glucagonomas (from a glucagon-producing cell)
• Somatostatinomas (from a somatostatin-making cell)
• Gastrinomas (from a gastrin-producing cell)
• VIPomas (from vasoactive intestinal peptide-making cell)
• Some pancreatic islet cell tumors do not secrete hormones,they are known as non-secreting islet tumors of the pancreas.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you experience unexplained weight loss or if you have persistent fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, or other signs and symptoms that bother you.
Moreover, it is advisable to visit your doctor often for constant check-ups, as many conditions can cause these symptoms, so your doctor may check for these conditions as well.