What is Pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produces hormones that help manage your blood sugar. The most common type of cancer that forms in the pancreas begins in the cells that line the ducts that carry digestive enzymes out of the pancreas (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma).

What are the causes of Pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in your pancreas develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell's DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. These mutations tell the cells to grow uncontrollably and to continue living after normal cells would die. These accumulating cells can form a tumor. When left untreated, the pancreatic cancer cells can spread to nearby organs and blood vessels and to distant parts of the body.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of pancreatic cancer include:

  1. Smoking
  2. Diabetes
  3. Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  4. Family history of pancreatic cancer
  5. Obesity
  6. Older age, as most people are diagnosed after age 65

What are the symptoms of Pancreatic cancer?

Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don't occur until the disease is advanced. They may include:

  1. Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
  2. Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
  3. Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  4. Light-colored stools
  5. Dark-colored urine
  6. Itchy skin
  7. New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that's becoming more difficult to control
  8. Fatigue

What are the treatment options for Pancreatic cancer?

Cancer treatment depends on the stage of cancer, health status, age and also on the diagnosis. If cancer is not metastasized, surgery is best option to cure. If cancer is detected at the early stage, a patient can be cured completely in many instances. Different type of surgery such as Whipple procedure (Pancreaticoduodenectomy), distal pancreatectomy, total pancreatectomy are used to treat cancers in various parts of the pancreas. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are useful as additional therapies after surgery to prevent recurrence of tumour.