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Pancreatic Cancer

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

The pancreas is an organ in the stomach which is situated behind the lower part of the stomach. The pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin and other enzymes that help in digesting the food as well as control the blood-sugar level in the body.

The pancreatic cancer is caused when the tissue cells lining the inside of the pancreas start to develop in an uncontrolled way and often form a large and hard tumor mass. This cancer is hard to detect in its early stages and hence gets difficult to treat if it becomes excessively malignant (spreads to other parts of the body) in nature.

Pancreatic Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Although pancreatic cancer is most of the times hard to detect when in its earlier stages there are certain commonly seen symptoms which may help determine the presence of the cancer of the pancreas, such as:

  • Upper abdominal pain that spreads to the back as well
  • Jaundice symptoms (yellowing of the white of the eye as well as the skin)
  • Appetite loss
  • Unwanted weight loss
  • Depression
  • Unexplainable blood clots

Causes of Pancreatic Cancer

The main causes of pancreatic cancer are still not known however medical science has been able to identify certain factors that indicate towards the development of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer usually results from the mutation in the DNA that causes the uncontrolled growth of the pancreatic cells that form a tumor after sometime. Most of the pancreatic cancer begins in the tissue cells that line the inside of the pancreas. This type of cancer is called as pancreatic exocrine cancer or pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

In rare instances the cancer may also develop in the cells of the pancreas that are responsible for producing several hormones, this is called as pancreatic endocrine cancer or islet cell cancer.

What are the risk factors seen to increase the chances of developing Pancreatic Cancer?

These are certain common factors that are known to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer:

  • African-American race
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatitis (Swelling of the pancreas)
  • Diabetes
  • Genetic factors – Lynch syndrome, familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) and BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Prior cases of pancreatic cancer in family
  • Smoking

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How is Pancreatic Cancer diagnosed?

There are several different types of diagnostic tests that are useful in determining the presence of pancreatic cancer, such as:

1. Imaging tests

Ultrasound test, computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests are helpful in letting the doctor get a clear view of the suspected cancerous region of the pancreas.

2. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)

This is an ultrasound device attached to an endoscope which helps the doctor get a visual of the pancreas from inside the abdomen. This device is passed through your mouth to the stomach in order to get the visual. This endoscope may also be used to cut a piece of the cancer mass for further pathological tests (biopsy).

Why Endoscopic Surgery is Done?

3. Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

This test involves injecting a dye to mark the bile ducts of the pancreas. The doctor uses an endoscope (small, thin and flexible tube) inserted from the throat down your stomach to reach the upper portion of the small intestine. The injected dye highlights the bile ducts inside the pancreas and gives a clear picture of any abnormal growths (tumors).

4. Biopsy

A biopsy is done by cutting a small sample of the cancer tissue and sending it for further detailed pathological tests. This is done by inserting a needle from the abdomen into the pancreas to take the sample of the tissue or by using an endoscope (small, thin and flexible tube) as well as using special ultrasound tools.

Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer in India

There are several factors that are considered before deciding on the best type of treatment method for you. Factors such as the location and stage of the pancreatic cancer as well as age, physical condition and your preference are considered in determining the best treatment method for you.

The primary aim of the treatment of pancreatic cancer is the termination of the cancer as much as possible. The secondary aim is to prevent the pancreatic cancer from growing and spreading to other parts of the body.

In case the cancer is extensive, and is not deemed treatable, the surgeon will perform procedures that help in reducing the discomfiting and painful symptoms that accompany the advanced stages of pancreatic cancer.

These are the various methods of treatment for pancreatic cancer in India:

1. Surgical treatment:

In case the cancer is seen only in the pancreas then the doctor will suggest a surgical procedure to treat it. There are several different surgical methods to treat pancreatic cancer, such as:

2. Pancreatic head surgery:

If the cancer is seen to be limited to the head of the pancreas the doctor might suggest a Whipple procedure (also known as pancreatoduodenectomy).

This procedure requires the surgeon to remove the cancer-afflicted pancreatic head as well as the adjoining duodenum (small intestine), part of your bile duct and the gall bladder. Some cases may require the removal of a part of the stomach as well. The surgeon will reconnect the healthy remaining pancreas, intestine and stomach to allow digestion of food.

3. Pancreatic tail and body removal:

Also known as a ‘distal pancreatectomy’ this procedure involves removal of the tail and a small portion of the pancreas. The surgeon may also be required to remove the spleen in certain cases.

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4. Radiation therapy:

Radiation therapy uses high-intensity energy beams (x-rays, etc) to bombard the cancer cells and destroy them. Radiation therapy may be administered before or after the surgery as well as in combination with chemotherapy.

5. Chemotherapy:

This therapy is performed by using medicinal drugs to destroy the cancerous cells. These drugs may be taken orally or intravenously. Chemotherapy may involve a single drug or a combination of a number of chemotherapy drugs.

Chemo-radiation is the therapy that combines chemotherapy and radiation therapy and is usually used to treat the cancer which has spread from the pancreas to the surrounding organs.

Chemotherapy is also used as a preventive measure against the recurrence of the cancer after being removed with a surgical method.

6. Targeted therapy:

This therapy is performed by using certain medicinal drugs that target specific characteristics of the cancer cells such as inhibiting the growth of the cells.

IndianMedTrip for treatment of Pancreatic Cancer in India

IndianMedTrip is one of the most popular medical tourism consultants in India which has helped hundreds of foreign patients with pancreatic cancer to get successful treatment in India. IndianMedTrip is well-connected with the vast network of world-class cancer hospitals in India to facilitate the treatment of pancreatic cancer in the Indian city of your choice. IndianMedTrip is known among its peers and patients alike for offering the best and most efficient treatment at the lowest cost for pancreatic cancer in India.

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