Mahesh Memorial Trust

Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer of the pancreas is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the pancreas. The pancreas lies behind the stomach, inside a loop formed by part of the small intestine.
Nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss, pain, weakness and/or jaundice
Pain in the upper abdomen or lower back, itching, dizziness and drowsiness.
Depression and new onset diabetes
Cancerous tumour in an islet cell may result in bouts of dizziness and drowsiness due to the over production of insulin, which results in low blood sugar levels.
Change in the body's metabolism (the way your body uses food). People with cancer absorb less calories from the foods they eat, so they usually need to eat more to maintain their weight.
Series of X-rays - Upper GI series, CAT scan and MRI. X-rays.
Ultrasonography - The use of very high frequency sound waves that cannot be heard by the human ear. The ultrasound instrument sends sound waves into the patient's abdomen. The waves bounce off the internal organs and produce echoes that create a picture called a sonogram. Healthy tissues and organs produce different echoes from diseased tissues and organs.
ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography) - An X-ray procedure in which the doctor passes a long, flexible tube (an endoscope) down the patient's throat, through the stomach, and into the small intestine. The doctor then injects dye through the tube into the ducts and takes X-rays of the common bile duct and pancreatic ducts.
PTC (Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography) - A thin needle is put into the liver through the skin on the right side of the abdomen. Dye is injected into the bile ducts in the liver so that X-rays will show blockages in the ducts.
Angiography - A procedure where dye is injected into the blood vessels and then X-rays taken of the blood vessels.
Bone scan - Shows abnormalities in the bones and whether this is caused by some other problem, such as arthritis, or by the cancer itself.
Biopsy - Ordered when a tumour is suspected of being cancerous. For this test, tissue is removed from the tumour and examined under a microscope to see whether the tumour cells are cancerous and, if so, what type of cancer.
Staging in Pancreatic Cancer
Stage I - Cancer is found only in the pancreas itself and has not spread to other organs.
Stage II - Cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as the duodenum or bile duct, but has not entered the lymph nodes. (Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body; they produce and store infection-fighting cells).
Stage III - Cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the pancreas. The cancer may or may not have spread to nearby organs.
Stage IV - This consists of Stage IVA and IVB. Stage IVA refers to cancer that has spread to organs that are near the pancreas (such as the stomach, spleen, or colon), but has not spread to distant organs (such as the liver or lungs) while stage IVB refers to cancer that has spread to distant organs (such as the liver or lungs).
Recurrent - Recurrent disease means that the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the pancreas or in another part of the body.
Side Effects of the Treatment
Weeks, or even months, to regain strength and energy after surgery.
The muscles in your abdomen may become weak and require special exercises to regain strength.
Pain and discomfort after a surgery.
Inability to produce sufficient pancreatic juices and hormones.
Problems with digestion
Inability to produce enough insulin may develop into diabetes.
Extreme fatigue.
Radiation dermatitis - The skin covering the radiated area becomes red, dry, itchy, and may show signs of scaling off. This will slowly settle down after radiation ceases, but there may be a permanent 'bronzing' of the skin.
Nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, urinary discomfort and fall in the white blood cells.
Skin rashes, loss of hair, diarrhoea, vomiting, tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes.
Hearing loss.
Risk Factors:
People with adult onset diabetes
High-calorie diets, long-term exposure to certain chemical carcinogens, such as dry cleaning chemicals, gasoline fumes, or metallurgic fumes, may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is more common among males than females, and it occurs most often around age 60