Pancreatic Cancer Treatment in India
Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which normal cells in the pancreas malfunction and begin to grow uncontrollably. These cancerous cells can eventually interfere with proper functioning of the pancreas and metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body.
The pancreas is a pear-shaped gland located in the abdomen between the stomach and the spine. It is about 6 inches in length and is composed of two major components: exocrine and endocrine. The exocrine component, made up of ducts and acini (small sacs on the end of the ducts), produce enzymes, which are specialized proteins released into the small intestine that help the body digest and break down food, particularly fats. It is the cells lining these pancreatic ducts that most frequently turn cancerous. These are called ductal adenocarcinomas of the pancreas and represent the most common subtype of pancreatic cancer.
Types of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer can be categorized into different types that depend on whether or not the cancer began in the endocrine or exocrine component. Pancreatic cancer types include
Endocrine Tumors : Endocrine tumors also referred to as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) or islet cell tumors are not so common as compared to exocrine tumors. A pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor could be non-functioning that means it does not make any hormones or it could also be functioning that means it can make hormones. The base of a functioning neuroendocrine tumor is on the hormone that cells usually make –
Exocrine Tumors: They are considered as the most common type of pancreatic cancer. Adenocarcinoma that begins in gland cells is mostly seen in around 95% people who are suffering from pancreatic cancer. Ductal Adenocarcinoma is the ducts of the pancreas from where the tumor typically begins. Rarely when tumor starts in the acini then it is termed as acinar Adenocarcinoma.
Some of the other rare tumors of the pancreas are –
- Acinar Cell Carcinomas
- Cystic Tumors
- Neuroendocrine tumors
Pancreatic Cancer – Symptoms and Signs.
- Yellow skin and eyes, darkening of the urine, itching, and clay-colored stool, which are signs of jaundice caused by a blockage of the bile ducts
- Pain in upper abdomen or upper back
- Painful swelling of an arm or leg due to a blood clot
- Burning feeling in stomach or other gastrointestinal discomforts
- Stomach bloating
- Floating stools with a particularly bad odor and an unusual color due to the body not digesting fats well
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
How Pancreatic Cancer is Diagnosed?
- 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.
- Percutaneous needle biopsy : Under imaging guidance, a radiologist inserts a needle into the mass, capturing some tissue. This procedure is also called a fine needle aspiration (FNA).
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): A flexible tube with a camera and other tools on its end (endoscope) is put through the mouth to the small intestine, near the pancreas. ERCP can collect images from the area, as well as take a small biopsy with a brush.
- Endoscopic ultrasound : Similar to ERCP, an endoscope is placed near the pancreas. An ultrasound probe on the endoscope locates the mass, and a needle on the endoscope plucks some tissue from the mass.
- Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that uses several small incisions. Using laparoscopy, a surgeon can collect tissue for biopsy, as well as see inside the abdomen to determine if pancreatic cancer has spread. However, laparoscopy has higher risks than other biopsy approaches.
Stages of Pancreatic Cancer
Stage is a term used in cancer treatment to describe the extent of spread of the cancer. The stages of pancreatic cancer are used to guide treatment and to classify patients for clinical trials. The stages of pancreatic cancer are:
- Stage 0 : No spread. Pancreatic cancer is limited to a single layer of cells in the pancreas. The pancreatic cancer is not visible on imaging tests or even to the naked eye.
- Stage I : Local growth. Pancreatic cancer is limited to the pancreas, but has grown to less than 2 centimeters across (stage IA) or greater than 2 centimeters (stage IB).
- Stage II : Local spread. Pancreatic cancer has grown outside the pancreas, or has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage III : Wider spread. The tumor has expanded into nearby major blood vessels or nerves but has not metastasized.
- Stage IV : Confirmed spread. Pancreatic cancer has spread to distant organs.
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