The Truth About Pancreatic Cancer
Whether you’re a patient or a health care provider, you need to know the truth about pancreatic cancer. Read on to learn what it is, how it’s diagnosed, and what the treatment options are.
Several different treatments are available for pancreatic cancer, but the type of treatment you choose will depend on the type of cancer you have, the stage of your cancer, and your overall health. If you’re interested in learning more about these options, ask your doctor about them. Getting clear information is the best way to determine which treatment is right for you.
The first line of treatment for most pancreatic cancers is chemotherapy. It is used to kill cancer cells, especially fast-growing cells. It can be administered by mouth or through an IV. It can also be given with radiation therapy, which uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. However, chemotherapy can have some side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, and low red blood cell counts. If you’re worried about these side effects, ask your doctor about treatment options that can be less harmful.
Radiation therapy can be a helpful treatment for pancreatic cancer. It uses high-energy x-rays and other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. It can also help shrink the tumor before surgery. It may also help alleviate symptoms, such as pain. It may also decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer coming back.
Surgery is also an option for pancreatic cancer. It is usually used to remove the tumor but can be used to remove nearby lymph nodes and other organs. It is also sometimes used as a part of palliative care, which focuses on symptom relief. If you have had pancreatic cancer surgery, you can also consider other treatments, such as chemotherapy. These treatments are usually given in combination with radiation therapy. Taking chemotherapy can enhance the effects of radiation therapy.
Other treatment options for pancreatic cancer include targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and ablation. These therapies target specific cancer cells or nearby structures but are unlikely to completely cure cancers. They can help relieve symptoms, prevent cancer from spreading, and help prevent other cancers from coming back.
If your pancreatic cancer is recurrent, you may want to consider clinical trials. These trials are conducted to find new treatments for pancreatic cancer. You can find information on these clinical trials through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) website. Some clinical trials are available for all stages of pancreatic cancer, while others are available for specific stages.
Ablation therapies use a machine outside of the body to deliver a high-energy x-ray of cancer. The machine uses a special type of radiation and may have less harmful effects on normal cells in the surrounding area. Other possible side effects of ablation therapies include bleeding inside the body, infections, and abdominal pain.
Other treatment options for pancreatic tumors include immunotherapy, which uses your immune system to fight cancer. This is an option for people whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body, or who are unable to have surgery. In addition, some newer drugs target checkpoints, proteins on immune cells that must be activated for the immune system to work. Those drugs are being tested for pancreatic cancer, but there’s still no evidence that they can cure the disease.
Getting a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is important, but it can be confusing. Diagnosis is often based on symptoms and signs, such as a high bilirubin level in the blood. There are also tests that can help to detect a tumor or check the overall health of the patient. In some cases, a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can be confirmed by performing a biopsy. The tumor may be located in the pancreas or elsewhere in the abdominal region.
Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer usually starts with a visit to a family doctor. The doctor will perform a physical examination and ask questions about any symptoms. The doctor may also order blood or urine tests. These tests may reveal blood-based biomarkers or detect the immune system’s response to a tumor. The test results will help determine if the tumor is located in the pancreas or in another part of the body. The tests can also be used to decide on a treatment plan.
A family doctor may also refer you to a specialist who is familiar with pancreatic cancer. Once you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you will need to undergo treatment. Some of the treatments are surgical. The type of treatment depends on the location of the tumor. Some types of tumors are more difficult to remove than others. A patient with resectable pancreatic cancer may be able to undergo surgery to remove the tumor. A resection is considered successful if the tumor has not spread to other parts of the body, including the liver, intestines, or arteries.
Symptoms and signs of pancreatic cancer include indigestion, fatigue, weight loss, jaundice, and back pain. Other symptoms include bile duct blockage, which can lead to higher levels of bilirubin in the blood. A doctor will also check the liver and lymph nodes to find out if they are swollen and tender. The doctor may also order imaging tests to check for tumors. The tests can also help to rule out other causes of symptoms.
A CT scan is an imaging test that creates a detailed picture of the pancreas. The images are taken while the patient is lying down. This test is not painful and requires no sedation. You may be injected with contrast dye to view the pancreas. This test is more accurate than abdominal ultrasonography, but it does not detect smaller tumors.
Another imaging test that can help to detect pancreatic cancer is an endoscopic ultrasound. An endoscopic ultrasound device is used to create images of the pancreas and other organs. The ultrasound device is passed through the throat, esophagus, and stomach. A light on the end of the device creates an image of the pancreas and other organs.
The endoscopic ultrasound device can also be used to collect a sample of the pancreas for biopsy. The sample is then sent to a pathologist for analysis. This process can be done through a laparoscope, as part of ERCP, or as part of a surgical procedure.
Identifying the stage of pancreatic cancer can help a healthcare provider determine the most effective treatments. There are several different stages, each with its own set of treatment options. Each stage is also associated with a certain level of prognosis, which is the chance that patients have of surviving the disease. The best way to increase the chances of a pancreatic cancer patient living a long, healthy life is to find the disease early.
During a diagnosis, your healthcare provider will determine the stage of your pancreatic cancer by looking at the results of imaging tests. These tests can help determine the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Your medical specialist may also perform additional tests to determine how far cancer has spread. In some cases, a biopsy, or the removal of a tissue sample, will be used to determine the stage of your pancreatic cancer.
The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) has established a set of four stages for pancreatic cancer. These stages are labeled as stage 0, stage 1, stage 2, and stage 3. The stage of cancer determines the treatment options for patients with that type of disease. The treatment options vary depending on the size of the tumor, the stage of the disease, and the response to treatment.
If the tumor is only in the pancreas, surgery can be used to remove it. In other cases, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used to shrink the tumor. Pain management techniques are also used to treat pain caused by the tumor. Pain management techniques may involve cutting or injecting nerves around the tumor to relieve pain. The type of pain management that is used will depend on the stage of the disease and the patient’s overall health.
Pancreatic cancer can start in different areas of the body, including the tail, head, and middle portion. These areas are often more difficult to see on imaging tests. The tumor may also press on nerves near the pancreas, or it may press on the spine or liver. In addition, the tumor may have spread to the liver, major blood vessels, or nearby lymph nodes.
Although there is no known cure for pancreatic cancer, early detection can increase the chances of a patient living a long, healthy life. However, the five-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is lower than melanoma of the skin (92 percent), breast cancer (89.9 percent), and ovarian cancer (75 percent). There are many types of treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. Patients may also opt for palliative care, which can improve their quality of life.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the United States federal government and provides information on treatment options and ongoing clinical trials. They also have a website called Visuals Online, which provides images of different types of cancer. They include images of the pancreas, the liver, and the thyroid gland.
Health A to Z. (n.d.). HSE.ie. https://www2.hse.ie/az/
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Directory Health Topics. (n.d.). https://www.healthline.com/directory/topics
Health A-Z. (2022, April 26). Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/health-a-z-4014770
Harvard Health. (2015, November 17). Health A to Z. https://www.health.harvard.edu/health-a-to-z
Health Conditions A-Z Sitemap. (n.d.). EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/conditions/