Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer developing in the pancreas, a large gland connected to the digestive system. Due to the lack of clear signs of pancreatic
Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer developing in the pancreas, a large gland connected to the digestive system. Due to the lack of clear signs of pancreatic cancer throughout first stages, it is one of the most difficult cancer types when it comes to effective treatment. There are two types of cancer which can develop in one’s pancreas:
• Exocrine pancreatic cancer – concerning patient’s exocrine gland. This type usually attacks ducts located in pancreas or cells producing pancreatic enzymes.
• Endocrine pancreatic cancer – it starts in hormone-producing cells in the pancreas and is much less common.
Pancreatic cancer treatment may take many forms depending on its stage and the patient’s condition, including chemotherapy treatment, radiation therapy, cancer surgery and targeted therapy.
Pancreatic cancer symptoms are initially hard to catch. They become distinguishable only in the later stages of pancreatic cancer when it is often too late to completely treat it. The early signs, easily confused with other medical conditions, include:
• Weight loss higher than expected
• The yellow colour of the skin and eyes.
• Pain, usually located in the back and around the stomach
New pancreatic cancer symptoms, after it reaches next stages, include:
• Formation of blood clots
• Symptoms of diabetes
• Vomiting, nausea
Pancreatic cancer is usually detected through CT scan or MRI scan and diagnosed by biopsy.
Patients may not be able to undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer due to other medical conditions, bad state of health or due to its advanced stage. However, the decision about a pancreatic cancer treatment will be taken by a medical team after taking all factors into consideration.
Since there are many types of treatment for pancreatic cancer, your preparation may take various forms. Initially, you should inform your medical team about your health, possible medical conditions, as well as produce a list of all medication you take.
• For pancreatic cancer surgery, you will have to undergo some tests. Additionally, you will be asked to fast for several hours before this type of pancreatic cancer treatment.
• Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer – they do not include preparation apart from organising transport to and from your hospital as well as undergoing all other medical procedures before starting these treatments since it will not be possible during and for some time after your sessions.
Pancreatic cancer treatment has many faces, depending on stages of cancer as well as patient’s condition. Treatment for pancreatic cancer may take the form of:
• Pancreatic cancer surgery. This includes so-called Whipple procedure (removal of the head of one’s pancreas), distal pancreatectomy (the tail and body of one’s pancreas are resected), and total pancreatectomy (total removal of one’s pancreas). All of these procedures are quite long and require a good overall state of health. Additionally, pancreatic cancer surgery is usually not available in later stages of pancreatic cancer, from stage 3 pancreatic cancer up.
• Chemotherapy treatment – chemotherapy involves heavy doses of drugs which aim at killing possibly high numbers of cancer cells. Chemotherapy treatment is conducted in sessions and may take weeks or even months to complete.
• Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy utilizes radiation for the purpose of destroying the pancreatic cancer cells. There are two types of radiotherapy – external radiation therapy (radiation is emitted by a machine) and internal radiation therapy (radioactive elements are injected or swallowed as a pill).
• Targeted therapy – Targeted therapy is a new generation of treatment for pancreatic cancer. With targeted therapy, your oncologist and the medical team try to destroy cancer cells by disrupting their biology, without harming other cells.
Up to a case and a type of treatment / 3-10 days for a pancreatic cancer surgery
Pancreatic cancer treatment recovery depends on the type of it. As for pancreatic cancer surgery, patients will experience problems with digesting food, especially during first days. As the time passes, this problem should disappear. Pain experienced after surgery will be minimalised with medications.
As for chemotherapy treatment and radiation therapy, their negative effects may last for weeks, months or even years after pancreatic cancer treatment.
Pancreatic cancer treatment may cause risks which are worth thinking about. In the case of surgery for pancreatic cancer, these are:
• Leak from connection between bowel, liver, and pancreas – so-called anastomotic leak
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy also may cause some complications, including:
• Damage to lung tissue
• Damage to other vital organs
• Neurological problems
Pancreatic cancer treatment side effects are numerous and include:
• Problems with digestive system
• Memory and concentration issues
• Hair loss
• Feeling of weakness and tiredness
Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest to fight with and it is visible in pancreatic cancer survival rate, which is 20% for 1-year survival and 7% for 5-year survival. However, as the medicine develops, pancreatic cancer prognosis brings more and more positive results.