What Is Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the pancreas.
Cells in the pancreas begin to grow uncontrolled. Cancer cells then have the ability to spread to nearby lymph nodes and organs
As it grows, a pancreatic tumor can affect the function of the pancreas, grow into nearby blood vessels and organs, and eventually spread through a process called metastasis to other parts of the body.
BRCA2 is mutated in pancreatic cancer.
Possible Causes Of The Cancer
About 30% of pancreatic cancer cases are thought to be a direct result of cigarette smoking. People who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer as people who do not smoke cigarettes. Additionally, the cancerous tumors that form as a result of cigarette smoking grow at an accelerated rate and develop approximately 10 years earlier than tumors not related to smoking.
Up to 15% of pancreatic cancer is related to a family history of the disease. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases by 2-3 times if a person's mother, father, sibling, or child had pancreatic cancer. The risk multiplies if a greater number of family members are affected.
Surgery may be done if the tumor has not spread or has spread very little. Along with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy or both may be used before or after surgery. A small number of people can be cured with this treatment approach.
When the tumor has not spread out of the pancreas but cannot be surgically removed, chemotherapy and radiation therapy together may be recommended.
When the tumor has spread (metastasized) to other organs such as the liver, chemotherapy alone is usually used.
With advanced cancer, the goal of treatment is to manage pain and other symptoms. For example, if the tube that carries bile is blocked by the pancreatic tumor, a procedure to place a tiny metal tube (stent) may be done to open the blockage. This can help relieve loss of appetite, jaundice, and itching of the skin.
Computed tomography (CT scan): A scanner takes multiple X-ray pictures, and a computer reconstructs them into detailed images of the inside of the abdomen. A CT scan helps doctors make a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Using magnetic waves, a scanner creates detailed images of the abdomen, in particular the area around the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.
Ultrasound: Harmless sound waves reflected off organs in the belly create images, potentially helping doctors make a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
Positron emission tomography (PET scan): Radioactive glucose injected into the veins is absorbed by cancer cells. PET scans may help determine the degree of pancreatic cancer spread.