Pancreas cancer

Pancreatic cancer - symptoms, signs and treatment methods

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth cause of death in the world. Know in this article about its symptoms and signs, and the latest methods and techniques for treatment in Turkey.

Pancreatic cancer is usually not diagnosed until its advanced stages because it is difficult to detect. Signs and symptoms include jaundice and weight loss. Risk factors include diabetes and exposure to certain chemicals.

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer occurs when pancreas cells multiply out of control. This can result in a mass of tissue. Sometimes, this lump is benign (not cancerous). When the mass is malignant (cancerous), we have pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It is estimated that more than 50,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and more than 40,000 people die from this disease annually.

The lifetime risk of pancreatic cancer is about 1.6%. The risk is roughly equal for men and women, and the typical age at the time of diagnosis is 65-74 years.

What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is a gland of the digestive system located behind the stomach. The main functions of the pancreas are to help digest food and to regulate blood sugar levels in the body.

The pancreas is involved in maintaining blood sugar levels because it makes insulin and glucagon, two hormones that control the level of sugar in the blood.

The pancreas is an exocrine gland due to its function that makes digestive enzymes. At the same time, it is considered an endocrine gland because it makes hormones such as insulin and glucagon.

What are the types of pancreatic cancer?

There are two types of tumors that grow in the pancreas: exocrine tumors and neuroendocrine tumors.

About 93% of pancreatic cancers are exocrine tumors, and the most common type of pancreatic cancer is called adenocarcinoma.
Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is what people usually mean when they say they have pancreatic cancer. The most common type begins in the ducts of the pancreas and is called ductal adenocarcinoma.

There are rarer forms of exocrine neoplasia, including one called intraductal myxomatosis (IPMN), which is becoming more common. This type begins as a benign tumor, but it can grow and become cancerous over time.

The rest of the pancreatic tumors, about 7% of the total, are neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) called pancreatic endocrine neoplasms (PNETs).
This type of tumor is also called islet cell tumor or islet cell carcinoma. If you have an islet cell tumor, you may hear them give it a name based on the type of hormone the cell makes. For example, insulinoma would be a name for a tumor in the cell that makes insulin.

Symptoms of endocrine cancer of the pancreas may differ from those of traditional pancreatic cancer, such as jaundice or weight loss. This is because some PNETs continue to secrete hormones excessively.

A picture showing the location of the pancreas in the digestive system and the body
pancreas positioning

What are the causes of pancreatic cancer?

There is no clear answer to that. We don't know what causes pancreatic cancer. But there are some risk factors.

What are the risk factors for pancreatic cancer?

One in 64 people may develop pancreatic cancer at some point in their life. A risk factor is something that increases the chance of developing a disease. There are risk factors that result from the behavior and they can be changed. For pancreatic cancer, these types of risk factors include:

  • smoking.
  • Having diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes associated with obesity. Onset of diabetes at an older age (for example, in a person in their 70s) and in a person with a normal weight or body mass index may be a sign of pancreatic cancer.
  • Obesity is also a risk factor. The accumulation of fat around the waist is a risk factor, even if you're not obese.
  • Exposure to chemicals used by dry cleaners and metal workers.
  • Chronic pancreatitis, or pancreatitis, is sometimes associated with smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol.

There are also risk factors that you cannot change. These factors include:

  • Heredity, including some of the conditions that cause chronic pancreatitis, including a family history of pancreatic cancer.

It is also important to know any family history ofBreast cancer Because genetic conditions associated withbreast cancer, The so-called BRCA syndromes, are linked to pancreatic cancer.

  • Age is over 40 years old.
  • male gender.
  • Be of African American or Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

What are the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer symptoms do not always appear, especially in the early stages, so it is difficult to detect. However, pancreatic cancer may cause the following:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen that may spread to the back.
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), with itching.
  • Anorexia.
  • Weight loss.
  • blood clots;

Your health care provider may suspect you have pancreatic cancer if you have some symptoms and have recently had diabetes or pancreatitis.

How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed in Turkey?

It is difficult to detect pancreatic cancer in the early stages. This is because health care providers cannot examine the pancreas in a routine examination.

If your health care provider suspects you may have pancreatic cancer, he or she may order x-rays to clearly see your pancreas. An endoscopic ultrasound may also be done.

An image showing how pancreatic cancer is diagnosed with ultrasound

An endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a thin tube with a camera on the end that is passed through the mouth into the stomach.

An ultrasound probe at the end of the endoscope allows imaging of the pancreas through the stomach wall. If needed, an ultrasound-guided biopsy (a sample of pancreatic tissue) of the pancreas can be obtained during the procedure.

A blood test can find a substance called the tumor marker. For pancreatic cancer, a patient's high levels of something called CA 19-9 may indicate the presence of a tumor.

According to the recommendations of two of the largest cancer organizations, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), everyone newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer should talk to their doctor about counseling and genetic testing to see if there is a cause. Hereditary pancreatic cancer.

How is pancreatic cancer treated in Turkey?

Treatment of pancreatic cancer depends on certain things, including the location of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, the general condition of the patient, and whether or not the cancer has spread outside the pancreas.

In advanced stages of cancer, treatment for pancreatic cancer is unlikely to be effective. By the time the diagnosis is made, it is often too late for complete surgical removal of the pancreas. However, there are different ways to try to treat pancreatic cancer. These methods include:

  • Surgical removal of the cancerous part of the pancreas. Lymph nodes near the pancreas may also be removed.
  • Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy. This method uses drugs that kill cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy helps your body fight cancer. It is largely ineffective against pancreatic cancer, but about 1% of people with pancreatic cancer may benefit from it if they have certain genetic mutations.
  • targeted therapy. Targeted therapy targets specific genes or proteins that help cancer grow. Genetic testing is generally done to see if targeted therapy is right for you.

Chemotherapy and/or radiation may be used instead of surgery, before surgery to reduce the tumor, or after surgery to make sure all cancer cells are dead.

Also, you and your caregiver should discuss ways to prevent or reduce side effects related to your treatment. This type of care, called palliative or supportive care, may include pain management.

For pancreatic cancer, it may also include ways to improve digestion and control diabetes.

A picture showing the components removed for the treatment of pancreatic cancer
Surgery to remove the gallbladder and a section of the pancreas and duodenum

Where does pancreatic cancer spread?

Pancreatic cancer, often undetected early, tends to spread to nearby lymph nodes, then to the liver, peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity), andlungs.

Can pancreatic cancer be prevented?

We don't really know what causes pancreatic cancer, so it's hard to know how to prevent it. However, you can change your daily behaviors to become healthier. These tips may help reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer:

  • Do not smoke. If you smoke or use tobacco in any way, try to quit.
  • Try to reach and maintain a normal weight by eating healthy and exercising.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, or stop drinking completely.
  • Try to avoid getting diabetes. If you have, control your blood sugar levels.
  • Use safety equipment if your work exposes you to toxins.

What is the outlook for people with pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is usually not diagnosed until its advanced stages. Therefore, it is one of the main causes of cancer deaths. After one year, the survival rate is about 20%. After five years, that number drops to about 6%. Each year, about 3,000 people die from pancreatic cancer more than those who die from Breast cancer in the United States.

If surgery can be done and part of the pancreas can be removed, the average survival rate is 18 to 20 months. The five-year survival rate in such cases increases to 10-25%.

If you haven't been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but you have some symptoms that worry you (such as pain or jaundice), call your provider to set up an appointment and tell them about your concerns.

And if you're diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, take a list of questions with you so you'll remember to get the answers you need to live your best life. These questions may include:

  • What stage of cancer have you reached? What does this mean to me?
  • What are the treatment options available to me? What do you recommend and why?
  • What side effects may I experience as a result of treatment?
  • Is genetic testing right for me?
  • Will I be able to keep working and do the things I need or want to do every day?
  • Are there situations where I need to call you right away or get emergency care?
  • Can you tell me where to find psychological support?
  • What should I do to stay as healthy as possible?

Make sure you follow the plan that you and your caregiver agree on. Stick to a schedule of follow-up appointments and exams. Bimaristan Medical Center remains your first choice for treatment in Turkey.
We direct you to the best specialists who are experts in all fields, we break the language barrier, Arab specialist doctors will help you in communicating with your doctor, we help you book an appointment in the most important and modern hospitals in Turkey, we offer our services to secure hotel reservations for you and your companions, in addition to transportation, we help you secure a travel visa for you for free.
We provide our services throughout Turkey, the best place to provide you with treatment is our destination.
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Common Questions

After one year, the survival rate is about 20%. After five years, that number drops to about 6%. If surgery can be done and part of the pancreas can be removed, the average survival rate is 18 to 20 months. The five-year survival rate in such cases increases to 10-25%.

Yes, about 20% pancreatic cancers are hereditary.

A patient with pancreatic cancer may die because of the cancer itself, but in some other cases, death occurs for reasons far from the disease or tumor itself, and that is also a large percentage, and his condition may deteriorate within a few days.

Here are some tips to follow in feeding a patient with pancreatic cancer:

Focus on plant foods and limit consumption of meat and animal fats.
Maintain physical activity as much as possible, it is recommended to walk 30 minutes a day.
Stay away from alcoholic beverages and caffeine.
Limit high-fat foods such as whole milk, fast food, and spicy foods such as onions, chili peppers or garlic.

The dietary goals of a patient with pancreatic cancer should be to eat adequate amounts of calories and foods rich in protein, vitamins and minerals daily, which will reduce the side effects of treatment.

Studies show that given the difficulty of early detection and recovery of pancreatic cancer, it is important to focus not only on finding appropriate new treatments, but also on effective prevention strategies. Because obesity and overweight are one of the increasing problems in our societies and because they play an important role in risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Targeting these conditions and implementing a healthier lifestyle could be a way to prevent pancreatic cancer as well as other types of cancer and chronic diseases.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grain foods, along with balanced calorie control, could be a valuable tool in future pancreatic cancer prevention strategies.

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