All About Pancreatic Cancer

Can­cer, in gen­er­al, is a scary term. Edu­cat­ing your­self about can­cer and know­ing about the spe­cif­ic type of can­cer you are fac­ing can help you make deci­sions in your treat­ment plan. Let’s take a clos­er look at pan­cre­at­ic cancer.

What is the pancreas?

Your pan­creas is an organ that lies hor­i­zon­tal­ly at the back of the abdom­i­nal cav­i­ty. It helps with diges­tion and secretes the hor­mone that reg­u­lates sug­ar metab­o­lism. Pan­cre­at­ic can­cer begins in the tis­sues of the pancreas.

What are the symptoms?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, pan­cre­at­ic can­cer often does­n’t have any signs or symp­toms until the dis­ease is in an advanced stage. When they do appear, signs and symp­toms may include:

  • Upper abdom­i­nal pain that may radi­ate to your back
  • Yel­low­ing of your skin and whites of your eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depres­sion
  • Blood clots

What are the risk factors?

Risk fac­tors for pan­cre­at­ic can­cer include:

  • African-Amer­i­can race
  • Excess body weight
  • Chron­ic inflam­ma­tion of the pan­creas (pan­cre­ati­tis)
  • Dia­betes
  • Fam­i­ly history
  • Smok­ing

What are the treat­ment options?

There are many treat­ment options for pan­cre­at­ic can­cer. If your can­cer is con­fined to the pan­creas, your doc­tor may rec­om­mend surgery. Surgery could entail remov­ing the front por­tion of your pan­creas, along with part of your small intes­tine, gall­blad­der and bile duct. Alter­na­tive­ly, surgery could mean remov­ing the tail por­tion of the pan­creas and pos­si­bly your spleen. What will be removed depends on where your can­cer is locat­ed. In addi­tion, radi­a­tion ther­a­py and chemother­a­py are often used, espe­cial­ly if the can­cer has spread out­side of the pancreas.

Can pan­cre­at­ic can­cer be prevented?

While there is no proven way to pre­vent pan­cre­at­ic can­cer, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Stop smok­ing
  • Main­tain a healthy weight
  • Choose a healthy diet

At DMG, we have a Hepatopan­cre­ato­bil­iary Clin­ic as part of our Inte­grat­ed Oncol­o­gy Pro­gram where pan­cre­at­ic can­cer is treat­ed. To sched­ule an appoint­ment, please call 630−364−7850.

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