Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month & Ribbon
Pancreatic cancer is that which affects the cells and tissues of the pancreas. It is also known as exocrine cancer and is one of the most difficult to diagnose cancers. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer develops silently and when the symptoms start showing, it is almost in the advanced stages of the disease. The condition causes rapid weight loss, dark colored urine, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal and back pain, jaundice and enlarged lymph nodes. Some of the patients also develop diabetes due to the impaired function of the gland leading to reduced insulin production. Blockage of bile ducts can lead to severe itching all over the body.
Treatment of pancreatic cancer depends largely on the stage of the disease.
Pancreatic cancer is caused by the mutations in the DNA of the pancreatic cells. The cause of these mutations can vary from exposure to various types of carcinogens, obesity, wrong lifestyle habits, genetic predisposition and finally reduced selenium and lycopene.
As with other types of cancer, patients with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed through the first presentations of clinical symptoms, after which elaborate laboratory tests such as scans and histopathological studies are conducted to determine the type and stage of the cancer. Biopsies include FNA (fine needle aspiration), Endoscopy, endoscopic ultrasound and laparoscopy. Blood tests include detection of specific antigen levels such as CA 19-9 and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).