Cancer of the pancreas is considered on of the most serious and deadly cancers of the body. The pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin along with the liver, and produces enzymes and digestive chemicals which aid in the body’s ability to utilize food for energy as well as develop a healthy metabolism. Pancreatic cancer was not given adequate research finding or facilities until recent history, and this pancreatic cancer research is considered well behind its time.
PANCREATIC CANCER SYMPTOMS
Pancreatic cancer is mostly asymptomatic until the disease is advanced and much more difficult to treat. Symptoms may include abdominal pain that wraps around to the side or the back, unintentional and significant weight loss usually accompanied by loss of appetite, a yellow tint to the skin and the whites of the eyes which is also called jaundice, nausea, vomiting, significant digestive problems, and in the later stages of the cancer itching due to a rise in bile levels which can accumulate in the skin.
PANCREATIC CANCER CAUSES
The pancreas is about 6 inches long and resembles a pear on its side lying in the middle of the abdomen. Cancer of the pancreas is caused by cells within the organ developing at an unhealthy and uncontrollable rate. Pancreatic cancer can either strike in the cells which produce enzymes needed for healthy digestion or it can strike in the cell ducts. Either form is not usually diagnosed until the disease has progressed.
PANCREATIC CANCER RISK FACTOR
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include race, gender, cigarette smoking, abnormal glucose metabolism, genetic predisposition, chemical exposure, obesity, and dietary factors. A diet that is low in fresh fruits and vegetables increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. African American men and women are in a higher risk bracket than other races. Men are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women. Patients who have chronic exposure to petroleum products are much more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
Image: Pancreatic cancer
PANCREATIC CANCER DIAGNOSIS
Pancreatic cancer is not often diagnosed until the disease has progressed and is causing symptoms. Screenings are not done regularly partially because the pancreas is an “overlooked” organ. Incidents of pancreatic cancer are slowly rising however, it is still considered a “rare” cancer. Ultrasound imaging, CT scans, and MRIs are often used when pancreatic cancer is suspected. Biopsies and laparoscopies are common in the diagnostic process, as are endoscopic tests such as endoscopic ultrasounds. Once pancreatic cancer is detected, testing to determine the severity or the stage of the cancer is then issued.
PANCREATIC CANCER SIDE EFFECTS
Complications related to pancreatic cancer usually center around the digestive system since the pancreas is so intricately involved in the digestive process. Complications may include issues with glucose metabolism, pain, severe itching, jaundice, and the spreading of cancer to other organs which is in close proximity to the pancreas. Because the pancreas is so close to other organs such as the stomach, spleen, intestines, and because pancreatic cancer is not typically diagnosed until it is in its later stages, it is very common for pancreatic cancer to spread to the surrounding organs.
PANCREATIC CANCER TREATMENT
Treatment of pancreatic cancer depends on the stage of the cancer as well as the organs it may or may not have spread to. In some cases, the cancer is so advanced that the most appropriate form of treatment is keeping the patient comfortable and allowing the patient the best quality of life possible. Other forms of treatments may include radiation therapies, chemotherapy, and surgical options. Surgically, the goal is to remove the cancer and allow the chemotherapy and radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells which were left behind. Clinical trials and palliative therapies have proven somewhat successful.
Treatment with coenzyme Q 10 has become a more popular alternative therapy with some hopeful results. Complimentary medications, nutritional therapies, and physical and spiritual therapies are often used in conjunction with traditional medicines.
Patients should eat small but healthy meals. Fludis help with hydration and healthy snacks filled with antioxidants have proven helpful. Patients will have days when they do not wish to eat at all, and this is normal for the circumstances. Small meals and snacks are required in the maintenance of strength and the body’s ability to fight cancer. Dietary supplements are usually recommended and patients should switch to a diet very low in fat if they do not already maintain one.
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