Cancers of pancreas

Background 

Pancreatic cancers are considered to be the most dreadful cancers of the abdominal organs. Pancreas organ lies in the retroperitoneal part of the body and mainly deals with the endocrine function of the body. It serves as important hormonal regulator by controlling of blood sugar in the body as well as  secretion of various digestive enzymes in the body. Due to its deep location, the cancers of  the pancreas are detected at  late stages, which subjects the patients to various complications related to disease 

Common causes and risk factors with pancreatic cancer 

1)Smoking and alcohol consumption

2)Old age 

3) chronic pancreatitis 

4) calcification in pancreas 

5) genetic and familial predisposition to pancreatic cancers 

Symptoms associated with pancreatic cancers 

  1. Loss of appetite and weight loss
  2. Pain in abdomain and back 
  3. Jaundice – yellowish discolouration of eyes, soles, palm and body 
  4. Early satiety and fullness of stomach 
  5. Low to high grade fever associated with cholangitis( bile duct obstruction) 
  6. Nausea and vomiting associated with advanced cancer spread in to stomach or duodenum 
  7. Symptoms associated with spread to other organs colon, liver , lungs and brain.

Diagnosis and investigations 

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms you should consult your clinician/surgeon for further evaluation. Many times pancreatic cancers are detected during routine evaluation for other symptoms especially at the early stage. Doctor generally advice you to undergo blood investigations and ultrasound. In case of high suspicion or any ultrasound findings, clinician may further advice you to undergo Contrast enhanced computerised tomography (CECT) of the abdomain. 

If the suspicion for cancer is high, u will be further advised to undergo endoscopic ultrasound biopsy ( EUS) for confirmation of diagnosis. Magnetic Resonance imaging ( MRI) and PET ( positron emission tomography) are further investigations of required will be done. 

Treatment for pancreatic cancers 

The treatment of the pancreatic cancers will depend upon the stage of the disease and spread of the disease. The decision is based on surgeon, cancer specialists and patients discussing the outcomes of treatment. Surgery remains the gold standard treatment for pancreatic cancers for complete cure.

Pancreatic cancer surgery is major surgery ( called as “Whipple’s operation / pancreatoduodencetomy ) which can be done minimal invasive ( laparoscopic/ robotic surgery) and conventional open method surgery. Post operative period recovery takes (7-15days) depending upon the outcome of the surgery. 

Radiotherapy have minimal role in pancreatic cancers and chemotherapy is routinely done after surgery depending upon the stage of disease. Chemotherapy before surgery is also practise at various centres to kill the cancer cells and decrease the spread of the disease. Nutrition before and after surgery plays important role in recovery of the patients.

To consult with best team of general, minimal access and cancer surgeons available at  The Surgeons House (SHL) in different global locations, please click this link for more details. 

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