Introduction to Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is cancer of the pancreas, an organ in your body involved in hormone regulation and digestion.
What is Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer is cancer of the pancreas, an organ in your body involved in hormone regulation and digestion. It affects around 8,800 people a year and is more common in older people. The pancreas is located on your left hand side, just underneath your stomach. It has two major roles in the body, firstly it secretes digestive enzymes into your intestines that help to break down food and secondly it secretes important hormones such as insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels.
What are the causes for Pancreatic Cancer?
Similarly to many other cancers, the exact cause of pancreatic cancer is not fully understood, however several risk factors that seem to increase your risk of the condition have been identified. They include age, as pancreatic cancer mostly affects people between the ages of 50-80 years old, smoking and other medical conditions such as diabetes and chronic pancreatitis.
What are the symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?
The main problem with diagnosing pancreatic cancer is that it doesn’t have many specific symptoms, especially in the early stages. The main noticeable symptoms are pain in the stomach or back, tiredness, unintended weight loss and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, called jaundice.
How is Pancreatic Cancer treated?
As symptoms of pancreatic cancer don’t usually show themselves until the later stages of the condition, it is difficult to treat and survival rates are poor. However there are some treatments for pancreatic cancer and your treatment or combination of treatments will depend on where your cancer is and how advanced it is.
The main treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, which is strong medication that kills the cancer cells, and radiotherapy, which is a strong beam of radiation that kills and shrinks the cancer. A specialist doctor who treats people with cancer is called an oncologist, they will be able to further advise you on the condition and the treatments for it.