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Pancreatic Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and TreatmentBY: Ritu Choudhary | Category: Pancreatic Cancer | Submitted: 2011-02-20 10:47:40
The pancreas is a gland in the abdomen, behind the stomach, which is divided into three parts: tail, body and head. This organ has two important functions in the body. It produces juices participating and helping digestion, emptying into the intestine, and it produces insulin directly discharged into the blood. There is currently no screening test that can be systematically with cancer of the pancreas. Therefore it is usually discovered very late. The disease is characterized mainly by an alteration in general health, weight loss, loss of appetite, severe back pain, abdominal pain, dark urine and discolored feces, or even jaundice may also occur if the cancer occurs at the head of the pancreas. But these symptoms arrive at an advanced stage of cancer development. But possibilities of total resection of cancer of the pancreas can usually be made if diagnosed early or evolution of the disease. Early diagnosis can be performed on patients with known high risk of developing disease, such as chronic pancreatitis or diabetes.
Diagnosis and staging
Abdominal ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) are the medical imaging that will make the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Ultrasound can show the tumor but it is mostly the scanner that will allow diagnosis and staging as it will eventually show the lymph nodes or liver metastases. In some difficult cases, when the tumor is small, endoscopic ultrasound, combines ultrasound and endoscopic approach, will consolidate some information.
Surgery is the only curative treatment. It involves removing the tumor completely and is complemented by a neck dissection. Surgical removal of the tumor is the only chance of recovery for the patient. Surgical removal of the tumor, if possible, is the standard treatment. It may be accompanied by biliary diversion or gastro-enterostomy as appropriate. If the tumor can not readily benefit from surgery, it is the case when it is too wide or locally accompanied by metastases then, chemotherapy is often proposed in order improve symptoms like pain and inhibit tumor progression and increase survival rate of the patient. Radiotherapy can sometimes complement chemotherapy. The administration of analgesics (morphine derivatives essentially), nutritional supplements and psychosocial support are essential to improve the quality of life of patients.
No factor recognized as a condition factor of developing cancer of the pancreas. However, after some studies, it is considered that pancreatic cancer occurs more frequently in men than in women, age of onset is usually after age 55, peak between 60 and 70. Tobacco is a recognized risk factor for pancreatic cancer as two to three times more common in smokers. Still most of these cancers is directly attributable to smoking (about 10 years) smokers. The existence of chronic pancreatitis increases the risk of developing this cancer. A diet rich in meat and fat low in fiber may play a facilitating role. And same goes for alcohol, which may be responsible for chronic pancreatitis, and in a few years develop into pancreatic cancer. About 10% of pancreatic cancers have a hereditary component. The only possible prevention of pancreatic cancer is to avoid the known risk factors that can promote it, especially chronic abuse of alcohol or a diet particularly rich in animal fats.
The consequences of treatment
After total pancreatectomy patient receives pancreatic enzymes externally in the form of medications during meals. And of course, diabetes resulting from lack of insulin will also be subject to special treatment. In cases where surgery could remove the entire tumor, monitoring will be regularly necessary to ensure there is no local or remote recovery of cancer. If tumor is not resectable, then palliative treatment including chemotherapy and radiotherapy control pancreatic cancer.
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