Pancreatic Cancer

May 3, 2022

What Is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. Most of the pancreas is made up of exocrine cells which from the exocrine glands and ducts. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma starts when exocrine cells in the pancreas start to grow out of control.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are a less common type of cancer, forming in the endocrine cells. The endocrine cells make up a small percentage of cells in the pancreas which is why pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are less common.

Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly to nearby organs and is seldom detected in its early stages.

What Can Cause Pancreatic Cancer?

Studies are not conclusive on the actual cause of pancreatic cancer. Cancer, in general, happens when cells in your body continue to grow and divide without stopping. Some people inherit different gene mutations that don’t stop the uncontrolled growth and division of cells. Some of these gene mutations can happen later in life if someone is exposed to cancer-causing chemicals like those found in tobacco smoke for example.

Other risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of genetics syndromes including:
    • BRCA2 gene mutation
    • Lynch syndrome
    • Familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMM) syndrome
    • Obesity
  • Aging (most people are diagnosed over the age of 65)
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatitis
  • Smoking

How Can I Prevent Pancreatic Cancer?

Some of the factors associated with effectively preventing pancreatic cancer include:

  • Quit smoking/Don’t start smoking
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet

Approximately 10% of people with pancreatic cancer have a family history of pancreatic cancer.

If a family member has pancreatic cancer, or has in the past, talk to your gastroenterologist today about staying on top of your risk and regular screenings.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer?

Some of the major symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Yellowing eyes or skin (Jaundice)
  • Dark urine
  • Light colored or greasy stools
  • Stomach/upper abdominal pain that spreads to your back
  • Sudden weight loss or poor appetite
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • New-onset diabetes
  • Blood clots
  • Depression

If you are experiencing any or a combination of these symptoms of pancreatic cancer please contact your nearest TDDC gastroenterologist.

What Are The Treatments For Pancreatic Cancer?

There are several treatments for pancreatic cancer. The treatment process will be decided by your physician depending on the stage of the cancer.

Some of the major categories of treatment for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Ablative treatments to remove tumors (extreme cold or heat)
  • Embolization treatments to remove tumors (block blood flow to tumors)
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Clinical trials
  • Immunotherapy (stimulate immune system)