Cancer of any types can be very harmful for your health. Getting infected with pancreas can be very terrifying as it can cause life-threatening consequences. It begins with affecting tissues in your pancreas and causes pain in your lower stomach. Pancreas is responsible for giving out digestive enzymes that aid digestion in the process. It also produces hormones that are beneficial in managing your blood sugar levels in the body. Pancreatic cancer can damage to your digestive system and lead to abnormal levels of blood sugar. Not just this it affect many other parts of the body as well. Today, let us know about some risk factors causing pancreatic cancer and treatment options that are effective by expert.
Effect of Pancreatic Cancer
We have Dr. Sanketh Kotne, Consultant Medical Oncologist from HCG Cancer Centre, Vizag to tell us about the effect of pancreatic cancer on health of a person. He told that pancreas is a vital organ that regulates blood sugar levels in our body. Pancreatic cancer or medically known as pancreatic adenocarcinoma are the formation of cancer cells in the ducts of the pancreas. Sometimes cancer can be formed in hormone-producing cells of the pancreas which are also called neuroendocrine tumours.
It is a rare cancer site and is a very aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis. These poor outcomes are possible because the disease presents asymptomatically in the early stages and by the time symptoms develop, the disease is in a very advanced stage. Hence, it's also called a silent disease.
What are Risk Factors Causing Pancreatic Cancer?
There are number of condition and factors that increase the tendency to cause pancreatic cancer. It can be caused by one or more than one of these conditions. Here are some causes that you should know about-
1. The risk of pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most people who develop pancreatic cancer above the age of 45 years, however this does not mean that younger people do not get this cancer.
2. Men are at higher risk of developing this type of cancer. According to our expert more men are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer as compared to women.
3. Tobacco is also a very big risk factor that affects huge population of people having pancreatic cancer. People who smoke tobacco are 2 to 3 times more likely at risk of getting this cancer than those who don’t.
4. Regular consumption of high fatty food is also a risk factor. Research has shown that obese and even overweight people have a higher tendency to fall for pancreatic cancer. This applies to many other types of cancer as well.
5. Alcohol and drug abuse is another factor because of which you can fall for pancreatic cancer. Chronic, heavy alcohol use increases the risk, most likely by causing recurrent pancreatitis which can be life-threatening.
6. Being a diabetic person for many years also increases the risk for this cancer. However, it is important to remember that not all people who have diabetes will develop pancreatic cancer.
7. Risk of pancreatic cancer also increases if someone in your family has history of this cancer. Genetics play a vital role in ruling the probability of pancreatic cancer like any other cancer.
8. There is also some evidence suggesting that having chronic pancreatitis may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. This has not been proven till now but there is a massive chance that this may be true.
9. Exposure to certain chemicals like pesticides, benzene, certain dyes, and petrochemicals may increase the risk. People who work in factories and plants that produce these types of chemicals are more likely to fall for pancreatic cancer and this could be very dangerous to their health.
Treatment Options and Tips for Curing Pancreatic Cancer
According to Dr. Sanketh Kotne, Consultant Medical Oncologist from HCG Cancer Centre Vizag, treating any cancer patient requires different types of doctors. Health care professionals work together and come up with a treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This includes therapies, surgery and medications that are planned in such a way to reduce the affect and treat the patient effectively.
The current treatment options that are available for pancreatic cancer are follows:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
A biopsy and histological confirmation are mandatory before proceeding with the treatment. A baseline blood investigation and imaging with PET CT or a Contrast CT are mandatory. All patients should be staged, and risk should be assessed at diagnosis. Patients are then classified as resectable, borderline resectable, locally advanced, ormetastatic based on the imaging at diagnosis.
Process of Treatment
Surgery remains the standard of care in a disease which can be resectable.
Upfront chemotherapy +/- radiotherapy is considered for locally advanced and borderline resectable tumours. This is done to minimize the disease burden followed by reassessment for surgery in those with stable or partial regression. It may be followed by adjuvant chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy/Targeted therapy/ immunotherapy are the treatment option for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. There are various combinations of these drugs which help prolong survival.
Palliative or best supportive care is the last hope for many cancer patients in advanced stages where medical treatments fail. This approach targets to relieve pain and discomfort thereby improving the quality of life. This also helps in strengthening his/her emotions and mental health during the recovery process.
Patients are always monitored under a close follow up schedule after the treatment with blood investigations and imaging whenever necessary to look for any recurrences.
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