Pancreatic Cancer

The silent but deadly killer. Shane Wright Class 4/5

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach and in front of the spine. The pancreas produces digestive juices and hormones that regulate blood sugar. Cells called exocrine pancreas cells produce the digestive juices, while cells called endocrine pancreas cells produce the hormones. The majority of pancreatic cancers start in the exocrine cells.

Who is at risk for Pancreatic Cancer/ What Causes Pancreatic Cancer

  • Smokers/Users of Tobacco products
  • Large frequent intakes of alcohol
  • Obese people
  • Pancreatic Cancer can also be hereditary (passed down through genes of parents)
  • Tobacco products
  • Alcohol
  • Some drugs
Almost all patients who develop Pancreatic Cancer are of 45 years of age or older. Men are just slightly more susceptible to develop Pancreatic Cancer than women. African Americans are also slightly more likely to develop Pancreatic Cancer than whites, the reasons for this unknown though. People who have a family history of Pancreatic Cancer are more likely to develop Pancreatic Cancer. Pancreatic Cancer is also more common in people who have diabetes. People who have cirrhosis of the liver are more likely to develop Pancreatic Cancer.

Details of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer happens when cells in the pancreas begin to grow rapidly, without anything to stop These "out of control" cancer cells then have the ability to spread to nearby lymph nodes and organs (for example the liver and lungs). When cancer spreads, it is called metastatic

What Pancreatic Cancer does to the body

  • Sharp pains in the upper back
  • Yellow pigmentation of the skin and around the whites of eyes (caused by jaundice)
  • Dark colored urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting

Prevention of Pancreatic Cancer

Unfortunate there is no way to 100% prevent yourself from developing Pancreatic Cancer as well as the fact many factors are not in our control. For example age, gender, race, and family history can not be controlled. However there are a number of things you can do to lower your risk of developing Pancreatic Cancer such as.

  • Do not smoke: Smoking is an import factor to stay away from if lowering the risk for Pancreatic Cancer is your goal
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Do not let yourself become obese. eating a well balanced diet and taking care of your body and what you put into it can go a long way
  • Limit alcohol use: In some (but not all studies) Alcohol has been directly linked with the development of Pancreatic Cancer so it would be best to play it on the safe side and not drink
  • Limit your exposure to chemicals and radiation: Avoid gene altering chemicals as well as your exposure to unnatural radiation waves for they both have been linked to not just Pancreatic Cancer but as well as a number of other Terminal Cancers

Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer

  • Physical Exam- The doctor will inspect check and examine the eyes and skin for any sign of jaundice, the doctor will then feel and check the lower back to look for abnormal changes in the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.
  • Lab tests- The doctor will in this test take blood and urine samples to check for Bilirubin. Bilirubin is a substance that passes from the liver to the gallbladder to the intestine. If their is a lack of bilirubin it could mean that there is a block which may be caused by a tumor.
  • CT scan- An x-ray is hooked up to a computer which takes detailed pictures of the insides of the body. They scan blood vessels. organs, and the pancreas.
These are just a few of the many test you can have done to check if you have Pancreatic Cancer but these three have been found most effective.

The treatments of Pancreatic Cancer

Surgery: Surgery can be very effective if the Pancreatic Cancer is caught in its early stages but when it starts to metastasis and get into its later more terminal stages their is not much surgery can do

Ablation and embolization: This kind of treatment is used for destroying the cancerous tumors rather then using surgery to cut them out. This is usually done by applying extreme heat or extreme cold to the cancerous tumors.

Radiation therapy: This form of cancer treatment uses high energy x-rays to kill and destroy cancer cells.

Chemotherapy: This cancer treatment is used by putting a cancer killing fluid into the bloodstream (via IV) which attacks the dangerous cancerous cells and kills dangerous cancerous tumors.