Pancreatic cancer occurs in the pancreas, a tube-shaped organ next to the stomach, and has both digestive and endocrinological functions. It’s digestive function is to, for example, secrete pancreatic juice which contains enzymes essential for digestion. It is also a part of the endocrine system in the body as it releases hormones, such as insulin.
There are two types of pancreatic cancer, namely exocrine (digestive part) or endocrine (the part that releases hormones). There are then several more types of cancer which derive from the two main parts of the pancreas. Endocrine pancreatic cancer is quite rare.
Although, generally, pancreatic cancer isn’t particularly rare, it is definitely vicious: it spreads undetected to other organs in the body, making it the fourth deadliest type of cancer in existance. Most patients who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer receive a poor prognosis, as the cancer does not make itself known until it has reached its more severe stages and has already spread to other organs. One statistic suggests that only five percent of patients are still alive five years after the initial diagnosis.
Treatment for pancreatic cancer, as with most cancers, generally includes an operation to remove a part of the organ, followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
Different types of pancreatic cancer have different types of symptoms. Once again, pancreatic cancer is mostly only detectable when it has progressed from its initial stages.
A summary of symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Yellow color of skin (jaundice)
- Fat in the stool
- Sometimes people get abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
Some factors that may cause pancreatic cancer include:
- Smoking (smokers have a 50 percent more chance of getting pancreatic cancer than non-smokers)
- Diets high in red meat
- Diets low in fruits and vegetables
- Gingivitis (or periodontal disease)
For more information on pancreatic cancer click here .
Celebrities who have suffered from pancreatic cancer include:
- Patrick Swayze
- Bollywood star Nargis Dutt