By: Riley Hendersen
Pancreas lies horizontally behind the stomach. It serves to release enzymes that help digestion, and hormones that serve to regulate carbohydrates metabolism. It helps regulating the sugar level (glucose) of your body.
Pancreatic cancer spreads very fast and it is difficult to spot it, therefore, it is a major cause of death among cancer illnesses. It is a cancer that spreads very rapidly to other parts and organs of the body, making surgical intervention useless in protecting the patient from death.
How does cancer develop in your pancreas? Most tumors form in the cells that produce digestive enzymes. These tumors that are called adenocarcinomas account for nearly 95% of cancer pancreatic.
Endocrine tumors that form in the islet cells are less common. Upon existence, they produce too much hormone. Very serious are the ampullary cancers that form in the ampulla of Vater, it is where your bile and pancreatic ducts are emptied into your small intestine. These tumors when blocking the bile duct, lead to jaundice.
The developing of pancreatic cancer happens when the DNA is damaged, and the growth and division of healthy cells becomes uncontrolled. Thus, a tumor is formed which is a formation of malignant cells.
A small number of people develop this cancer due to genetic predisposition. In 90% of the cases environmental factors, lifestyle, smoking, diet, and chemical exposure lead to the formation of cancer.
According to surveys, black men and women are at higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer, being overweight and working with petroleum compounds also play a risk factor.
How do you suspect that you may have developed cancer in your pancreas? First of all, you lose your appetite, develop sharp abdominal pain, suddenly lose weight, and have jaundice, yellowing of the skin. It is important to mention Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that infect your mucus and your stomach. In many cases it is asymptomatic.
Courvoisier’s law predicts that jaundice and a painless gallbladder that is distended are together indicative of pancreatic cancer. This cancer can be spotted while carrying out liver function tests, along with ultrasound and abdominal CT examinations. Endoscopic ultrasound is a painful, but effective way of spotting the tumor.
Patients having cancer in their pancreas have a poor prognosis due to the cancer not causing evident symptoms in the early stage. Mortality is around 99% in the United States, ranking cancer pancreatic as the number one fatal cancer in America.
This cancer may result in diabetes which turns out to be a life-long illness exposing the patient at discomfort and high risk of death if not treated properly. The American Cancer Society promotes high consumption of vegetables and fruits and lower consumption of red meat. Like with all other cancers, smoking proves a major factor in developing this cancer as well.
Prevention of cancer is vital. Long-term examinations have proved that taking vitamin D helps in decreasing the risk of cancer with 50%. Lately, younger generations have been affected, however, these patients have responded well to treatment in the UK, for example. There is hope for better treatment and diagnosis, these cases have proved the general statistics wrong. For further details, please consult the Pancreatic Cancer UK organization.