Pancreatic cancer is the cancer that arises from the cells of the pancreas. It occurs when changes in these cells cause them to multiply abnormally, resulting in the formation of a mass of tissue. The mass can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign).
Pancreatic cancer occurs when changes (mutations) in the pancreas cells lead them to multiply out of control. A mass of tissue can result. Sometimes, this mass is benign (not cancerous). In pancreatic cancer, however, the mass is malignant (cancerous).
The most common type of cancer in the pancreas originates from the cells that line the pancreatic ducts, called pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Rarely, the tumour can be a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour originating from the neuroendocrine or the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas.
It is a small gland located behind the stomach and shaped like a hockey stick. Its main function is to facilitate the digestion of food and regulate blood sugar levels. The pancreas maintains the blood sugar levels by producing two hormones - insulin and glucagon. Both of these hormones regulate blood sugar levels.
Two types of tumours are found in the pancreas - neuroendocrine tumours and exocrine tumours. Around 93% of all the pancreatic tumours are exocrine in nature, the most common one of which are adenocarcinomas. The commonest type of adenocarcinomas originate in the pancreatic ducts, so they are called ductal adenocarcinomas.
The remaining 7% of the pancreatic tumours are neuroendocrine tumours. They are also called islet cell tumours, pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours, or islet cell carcinomas. Some of these tumours release an excess amount of hormones. Their name depends on the hormones they produce. For example, insulinoma is a neuroendocrine tumour that produces excess amounts of insulin.
Pancreatic cancer, in its early stages, is asymptomatic. Therefore, it is hard to detect at the stages when it is most curable. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often experienced when it is at an advanced stage and include:
If you persistently experience a combination of the symptoms mentioned above and it worries you, you must visit Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore and get an appointment with an experienced doctor. There are many other medical conditions that may present with similar symptoms, so even if you do not have pancreatic cancer, you may have other conditions that need diagnosis and treatment.
The exact cause of pancreatic cancers is not known. However, the presence of certain risk factors like being a chronic smoker and having certain inherited gene mutations increases the risk of developing this type of cancer. Pancreatic cancer results from DNA mutations in some pancreatic cells. The DNA contains a set of instructions that directs the cell to carry out its functions normally. Because of the mutations in the DNA of these cells, they keep dividing uncontrollably, giving rise to the development of a tumour. If left untreated, the tumour can metastasise to nearby organs, blood vessels, and even distant body parts.
There are certain risk factors for pancreatic cancer, the presence of which increases the chances of developing the disease. Following are some of those:
Apart from the risk factors mentioned above, there are some risk factors of pancreatic cancers that can’t be modified or changed. Those include:
If your family member is suffering from pancreatic cancer, you must consider meeting with a genetic counsellor. After reviewing your overall health and medical history, they will be able to decide if you might benefit from a genetic test to determine your risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
If the doctor suspects pancreatic cancer, they might order certain tests to confirm the diagnosis, including:
There are five different stages of pancreatic cancer. The staging is done based on the location, size, and extent of spread of the tumour.
We provide the best pancreatic cancer treatment in Indore by delivering personalised and tailored treatment plans under the care of highly qualified and experienced oncologists. The treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on certain factors, including its stage and location, the patient's overall health, and personal preferences. In most cases, the first goal of treatment is to eliminate cancer as much as possible. Should that be impossible, the focus shifts to improving the quality of life of the patient and limiting the spread of cancer.
Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these. For advanced pancreatic cancers, these treatments aren't likely to offer a cure and the aim of the treatment shifts to relieving symptoms by providing supportable or palliative care. The palliative care team at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore works hard to keep the patients as comfortable as possible and improve their quality of life for as long as possible.
Different surgical procedures are used to treat different types of pancreatic cancers, including:
Receiving a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can be devastating. If you are not able to deal with the mental and emotional aspects of the diagnosis, you can consider joining a support group and get in touch with people dealing with the same problem.
Also called supportive care, palliative care is specialised medical care that aims to provide relief from pain and other symptoms of cancer or any other serious illness. At Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore, palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other specially trained professionals. The aim of palliative care is improving the quality of life for patients with cancer and their families. Our palliative care specialists work with the patients, their families, and other doctors to give an extra layer of support that supplements ongoing medical care. When supportive care is given along with other appropriate treatment modalities, people with cancer may feel better and live longer, fulfilled lives.