Pancreatic cancer occurs when the cancer form within the lining of tissue in the pancreas.
The pancreas plays a significant role within the body, as it creates digestive juices, more commonly known as enzymes. These enzymes then break down the excess sugar and fat, regulating those levels within our blood. It is also the organ that is responsible for insulin without the body, which also helps maintain balanced amounts of sugar in the blood. Though it is possible that a person can live without the pancreas, they will have to be medicated regularly with insulin shots.
The main problem that doctors and scientists face when it comes to pancreatic cancer is how difficult it is to detect during its early stage. There are multiple reasons for this, one being the pancreas’ location within the body as it is located behind the stomach and in front of the spine. The other reason is that the symptoms of pancreatic cancer will not appear until a later stage when it has already spread to other organs.
This said, why is it important for doctors and patients to detect pancreatic cancer as early as possible?
Why Early Detection Of Pancreatic Cancer is Important
Pancreatic cancer, if diagnosed early enough, can drastically affect the patient’s survival rate. Seeing as how most cases pancreatic are not discovered until a later stage, it has a very high fatality rate compared to other types of cancer.
With the survival rate of pancreatic cancer being as low as 10% for all patients, it has become a priority for doctors and specialists to detect this cancer as soon as possible. In most cases, surgery will have to be done as a last resort.
The onset of symptoms for pancreatic cancer can be a bad omen, as it probably means that cancer has advanced past the first stage, but it is still vital to know the symptoms as you can consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Pancreatic cancer symptoms include:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Dark urine and lighter stools
- Itchy skin
Early detection of pancreatic cancer has proven to be a burden for most health care professionals as the pancreas is generally forgotten or dismissed in routine checkups.
However, there are multiple ways to capture pancreatic cancer once a healthcare professional suspects a patient might be showing signs of having pancreatic cancer.
Endoscopic ultrasound is a procedure that involves inserting a long tube into the stomach through the mouth. The camera at the end of the tube will capture the pancreas within the stomach wall, allowing close observation of it as well as obtaining tissue from the pancreas if necessary.
Blood tests are also an available option, as they can identify whether the pancreas has high levels of carbohydrate antigen, a chemical that is released by pancreatic cancer cells.
Early diagnosis and detection of pancreatic cancer are also essential for its treatment, as it will decide which option will be most effective and appropriate. The location of the tumor, the state of your overall health, and the spread of the cancer are also among the factors included in choosing treatment. All of those are correlated with how early the cancer is detected.
- Surgical removal involves manually removing the cancerous part within or around the pancreas. Referred to as a pancreatectomy, there are different procedures done depending on where the tumor is located. Depending on the location, such as when the tumor is located near the head of the pancreas, other parts of the body will be removed as well, such as a part of the bile duct, the duodenum, and the gallbladder.
- Radiation therapy is a procedure that involves using radiation to attack the DNA of the cancer cells, either totally eliminating them or slowly shrinking them.
- chemotherapy treatment involves many drugs and chemicals to attack cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy involves treatment that allows your body to adapt and naturally fight cancer. Depending on the severity of cancer, this treatment is largely ineffective, especially when there are genetic defects involved. However, with the aid of other treatments and interventions, this treatment will help accelerate the body’s fight against cancer.
- Targeted therapy involves locating specific genes that help develop cancer.
- Pancreatic cancer clinical trials at Power are also necessary, and consulting healthcare professionals on whether or not you are ready for clinical trials is a must as it can help not only identify your cancer better but contribute to the study of it as well.
Even though pancreatic cancer is a special case amongst its other counterparts, the best solution is still prevention. Being aware of the facts, research, and data that have been put into this disease is key to avoid falling victim to it.