WHAT IS PANCREATIC CANCER?
Pancreatic Cancer Definition: Pancreatic Cancer is medically known as pancreatic carcinoma – is one of the ten most common cancer cases in Germany and is the third most common malignant tumour of the digestive tract. Each year about 15,000 people in Germany suffer from pancreatic cancer. Men and women are equally affected. Pancreatic carcinoma occurs mostly in the elderly: men are on average 70 years and women 76 years old when the disease is diagnosed.
Pancreatic cancer can arise from both exocrine and endocrine cells. Usually, the cells that form the digestive juice (exocrine cells) are affected. The hormone-forming cells – the islet cells – change significantly less frequently to pancreatic cancer. The pancreatic carcinoma of the pancreas is about 70%.
In pancreatic cancer, life expectancy is low. Many patients die from a pancreatic carcinoma. One of the reasons for this is that pancreatic cancer is usually recognized late and the tumour can not be completely removed. How high the life expectancy in pancreatic cancer is, depends, among other things, on whether a tumour can be surgically removed and whether it has already formed secondary tumours (metastases). Overall, pancreatic cancer is associated with the lowest life expectancy among all cancer types: five years after diagnosis, eight percent of men and seven percent of women still live.
WHAT CAUSES PANCREATIC CANCER?
- Genetics: If relatives of the first degree – that is, the parents, siblings, or a biological child – had pancreatic cancer, the likelihood is higher that they also get sick. If pancreatic cancer occurs with two or more close relatives, doctors speak of family pancreatic cancer. In this case, the risk increases as well. However, it has not yet been clarified whether genes are actually the cause of familial pancreatic cancer or whether the lifestyle within the family leads to pancreatic carcinoma.
- Other factors: Other risk factors that may promote the development of pancreatic cancer include:
- Smoking, also passivrauchen
- high alcohol consumption
- chronic pancreatitis (pancreatitis)
- Diabetes mellitus type 2
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PANCREATIC CANCER?
Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms: Frequently, back pain is the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer. The patient has no appetite and pain in the upper abdomen. Other symptoms include:
- unwanted weight loss
- Occasionally, type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Gel regurgitation: Approximately a quarter of the patients develop early jaundice (jaundice). The skin, the mucous membranes, and the conjunctiva of the eyes become yellowish. In certain forms of the pancreatic carcinoma, the gel can also occur repeatedly (intermittently). In advanced pancreatic cancer, almost all patients (90 percent) suffer from gel spots.
WHAT TREATS PANCREATIC CANCER?
Pancreatic Cancer Treatment: If the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is established, various therapy procedures may be appropriate:
- Surgery: In pancreatic cancer, the first step of therapy is usually surgery, Depending on the location of the pancreatic carcinoma, this is more or less extensive. If a tumour is in the pancreas body or tail, the surgeon removes the affected part of the spine and the spleen. In the case of a tumour in the pancreas head, the surgeon usually also removes parts of the pancreas, sometimes the stomach as well as the twins, the gallbladder and possibly the bile duct. Sometimes he also removes the entire pancreas. In this comprehensive procedure, the surgeon stops the digestive tract. Therefore, he then sews a small intestinal snare to the digestive tract or bile duct. He either sews the pancreas with the small intestine or closes it.
- Pancreas Removal: The operation often has a major impact on the patient’s daily life – especially when a tumour is in the pancreas head. If a large portion of the pancreas is removed, diabetes mellitus (sugar disease) may occur. Those affected must then inject insulin. In addition, the digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas are absent. Therefore, patients swallow these enzymes as their medication. This can prevent or reduce the effects of diarrhoea or fat.
- Chemotherapy: After an operation in pancreatic cancer the therapy is usually not yet finished, Since cancer cells can still be present in the pancreas or other organs after an operative procedure or cancer can return, chemotherapy usually follows the entire body. Medics then speak of adjuvant chemotherapy. For this, the affected person receives drugs (eg gemcitabine) over a drip on one or several days in succession.
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