Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the pancreas, a glandular organ located behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes and hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer occurs when...
Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the pancreas, a glandular organ located behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes and hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the pancreas grow out of control and form a mass, also known as a tumor.
There are two main types of pancreatic cancer: exocrine tumors and endocrine tumors. Exocrine tumors are the most common type and originate in the cells that produce digestive enzymes. Endocrine tumors are less common and originate in the cells that produce hormones, such as insulin.
Types of Pancreatic Cancer
There are several types of pancreatic cancer, including:
Adenocarcinoma: It is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. It accounts for about 90% of cases. Adenocarcinoma starts in the exocrine cells that produce digestive enzymes and occurs in the head, body, or tail of the pancreas.
Neuroendocrine tumors: These tumors develop in the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas and can be either functional or non-functional.
Acinar cell carcinoma: This rare type of pancreatic cancer starts in the acinar cells that produce digestive enzymes.
Pancreatoblastoma: This is also a rare type of pancreatic cancer that typically affects children.
Adenosquamous carcinoma: This type of pancreatic cancer is a mix of adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and is very rare.
Undifferentiated carcinoma: This is a highly aggressive and rare type of pancreatic cancer that does not have a well-defined cell type.
The treatment and prognosis of pancreatic cancer depend on the type, stage, and location of cancer, as well as the overall health of the patient.
Stages of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer can be divided into several stages based on the extent and spread of cancer which means the stages depend on the size of the tumor and how far cancer has spread. The most commonly used staging system is the TNM system, which stands for Tumor, Node, and Metastasis.
The stages of pancreatic cancer are
Stage 0: Stage 0 of pancreatic cancer stage is also called carcinoma in situ, where the cancer is confined to the top layers of cells in the pancreas.
Stage I: At Stage 1, cancer has grown beyond the top layer of cells in the pancreas and is confined to the pancreas.
Stage II: Cancer has spread beyond the pancreas to nearby tissues and organs, such as the duodenum or bile ducts, but has not yet spread to distant sites.
Stage III: Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and blood vessels, but has not yet spread to distant sites.
Stage IV: Cancer has spread to distant organs or tissues, such as the liver or lungs.
Each stage has its own set of treatment options and prognoses. The earlier the stage at which the cancer is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer
The symptoms of pancreatic cancer may vary depending on the stage of cancer of pancreas. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms at all. However, as cancer of pancreas progresses, the following symptoms may appear:
Given below are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer:
- Upper abdomen pain
- Back pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- New-onset diabetes
- Itchy skin
- Pale or clay-colored stools
- Dark urine
Causes of Pancreatic Cancer
Cancer of the pancreas occurs when cells in the pancreas start growing and forming uncontrollably. But here are some risk factors that can increase the chance of developing pancreatic cancer.
Age: The risk of pancreatic cancer development increases with age. Most people in the age group of 60 years or more develop cancer of the pancreas.
Smoking: Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for pancreatic cancer. People who smoke are two to three times more likely to develop the disease than non-smokers.
Family history: People with a family history of pancreatic cancer are at increased risk of developing the disease.
Chronic pancreatitis: chronic level of inflammation of the pancreas can also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Diabetes: People with diabetes, especially those with type 2 diabetes, have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Obesity: Individuals who are obese or having excessive weight always at risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Exposure to certain chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as pesticides and benzene, may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Having one or more of these risk factors does not necessarily mean that a person will develop pancreatic cancer, and many people who develop pancreatic cancer have no known risk factors.
Prevention of Pancreatic Cancer
Cancer of the pancreas is a complex disease that depends on various factors. The prevention of pancreatic cancer is not guaranteed but you can reduce the risks of developing or spreading pancreatic cancer by following the mentioned below steps.
Avoid Smoking: The doctor always advises avoiding/quitting smoking because it is one of the leading and major risk factors.
Weight Management: Obese individuals can be at higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. So, it is always advisable to manage weight with the help of a healthy diet as well as physical activities, if you want to reduce the chance of being the candidate for pancreatic cancer.
Eat a Healthy Diet: Our diet plays an important role in developing health issues. Improving your diet and eating healthy food products like fruits, green vegetables, whole grains, etc., and limiting processed and red meat helps in reducing the risks of developing pancreatic cancer.
Blood Sugar Management: Individuals with diabetes problems always be at a higher risk of cancer of the pancreas. So, by managing your blood sugar you can easily reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Get regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with your doctor can help identify any potential problems early when they are more treatable. If you have a family history of pancreatic cancer, your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent screenings.
Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as those found in some pesticides and industrial compounds, may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. Taking precautions to avoid exposure to these chemicals may help reduce your risk.
Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer
Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer typically involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, imaging tests, and biopsy.
Medical History Review: A doctor will first review the patient's medical history to assess risk factors for pancreatic cancer, such as the family history of the disease or a history of smoking.
Physical Examination: During the physical exam, a doctor will examine the abdomen for any signs of swelling, tenderness, or masses.
Blood Tests: The doctor may recommend you variety of blood tests such as kidney function test KFT, liver function test LFT and Complete blood count CBC to know the working of other organs because they may affect due to the presence of cancer. Apart from these basic blood tests, advanced tumor markers such as Pancreatic Cancer Marker (CA 19.9) are also recommended. This tumor marker is usually recommended to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Imaging Tests: Imaging tests are used to get a better view of the pancreas and surrounding tissues. These tests may include:
- CT scan: Dual-phase contrast-enhanced spiral CT scan is performed to create detailed cross-sectional images of the pancreas and surrounding areas for diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
- MRI: MRI whole abdomen is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the pancreas and surrounding areas.
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS): a procedure that uses a thin, flexible tube with a small ultrasound probe at the end to create detailed images of the pancreas and surrounding areas.
- Whole-Body PET scan: The whole body pet scan is a test that uses a small amount of radioactive material to highlight areas of abnormal cell activity in the body.
Biopsy: If imaging tests show a suspicious mass, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This involves removing a small sample of tissue from the pancreas for examination under a microscope. Biopsies can be done using a needle through the skin, or during surgery.
Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to diagnose in its early stages because it may not cause any symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body. Common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include abdominal pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not fully understood, but certain risk factors have been identified. These include smoking, obesity, a family history of pancreatic cancer, chronic pancreatitis, and certain genetic mutations. Treatment options for pancreatic cancer depend on the stage of cancer and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these treatments. In some cases, targeted therapies or immunotherapy may also be used.
Ganesh Diagnostic offers a pancreatic cancer screening package to determine the risks of developing pancreatic cancer. The package is specifically designed to help the doctor as well as a patient who is at a higher risk of cancer of the pancreas in the best course of treatment.
If you have any queries regarding the pancreatic cancer diagnosis tests, feel free to talk to our healthcare executives.