Monday, November 18, 2013

Pancreatic Cancer: Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

The Pancreas is the 6 inch long organ in the human body. Located behind stomach, the pancreas are spongy and shaped like fish. Pancreatic Cancer takes place due to uncontrolled growth of cell in this organ. This growth does not develop into healthy and normal tissues. Rather, they continue to divide while forming lumps of tissues known as tumors. These tumors interfere with the functions of pancreas. When this tumor does not spread and shows limited growth, it is referred as benign in most of the cases. Malignant tumors travel to other parts of body and grow, invade and destroy other tissues that are healthy.
Causes of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic Cancer is the result of the uncontrollable growth of cells that do not die with time. Normal cells in human bodies follow a chalked path. They grow, divide and ultimately die. The programmed death of cells is known as apoptosis. When the process of apoptosis breaks down, the event results in cancer. There is no programmatic death of Pancreatic Cancer cells. The cells continue to grow as well as divide. Scientists are not aware of the exact reason of the cause of such behaviour of these cells. However, there are potential risk factors. Specific DNA type, family genes and carcinogens are some of the risk factors.
Signs and Symptoms
There are a number and variety of symptoms of cancer. They depend on the region where cancer is located and the organ where it has spread. It also depends on the size of the tumor. Pancreatic Cancer is referred as silent disease as the symptoms do not appear early. Even the later symptoms are non specific. The tumors of this type of cancer are quite small; hence, the symptoms are not visible easily. As and when the cancer grows, some symptoms that appear are:
  • Pain in upper abdomen
  • Unproblematic yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • Darkening of urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness and visible weight loss

However, Pancreatic Cancer cannot be determined just on the basis of these symptoms.

To be able to diagnose Pancreatic Cancer, doctors recommend complete physical examinations along with checking medical histories of the person as well as the family. The manner in which pancreatic cancer represents itself differs on the basis of its presence in the head or the tail of the organ. Tumors in the tail present with pain as well as weight loss while those in the head present with weight loss, jaundice, steatorrhea. For diagnosing this type of cancer, specialists give specia attention to regular symptoms like back pain, poor appetite, weight loss, tiredness, digestive problems, blood clots, etc.
The treatment options for pancreatic cancer are dependent on the type of cancer, its stages, the degree to which it has spread, age of the patient, his / her health status, as well as other personal characteristics of the patient. There is no singular treatment for pancreatic cancer. This type of cancer is curable when it is detected in earlier stages. Pancreatic Cancer can be treated through surgery, chemotherapy and / or radiation. These are some of the common types of treatment. Treatment helps in removal of the cancer by relieving the painful symptoms caused due to cancer.
Although there are no established guidelines to prevent pancreatic cancer, doctors advise people to quit smoking as it increases the risk factors. General preventive measures include maintaining healthy weight, exercising, intake of fruits and vegetables, etc.