Pancreatic Cancer

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What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. Most of the pancreas is made up of exocrine cells which form the exocrine glands and ducts. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma starts when exocrine cells in the pancreas start to grow out of control. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are a less common type of cancer, forming in the endocrine cells. The endocrine cells make up a small percentage of cells in the pancreas which is why pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are less common. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly to nearby organs and is seldom detected in its early stages. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with or suspects pancreatic cancer, you can partner with an expert gastroenterologist through GI Alliance.

What can cause pancreatic cancer?

Studies are not conclusive on the actual cause of pancreatic cancer. Cancer, in general, happens when cells in your body continue to grow and divide without stopping. Some people inherit different gene mutations that don’t stop the uncontrolled growth and division of cells. Some of these gene mutations can happen later in life if someone is exposed to cancer-causing chemicals like those found in tobacco smoke for example.

Other risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of genetics syndromes including:
    • BRCA2 gene mutation
    • Lynch syndrome
    • Familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMM) syndrome
  • Aging (most people are diagnosed over the age of 65)
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatitis
  • Smoking

How can I prevent pancreatic cancer?

Some of the factors associated with effectively preventing pancreatic cancer include:

  • Quitting smoking/Do not starting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet

Approximately 10% of people with pancreatic cancer have a family history of pancreatic cancer. If a family member of yours has pancreatic cancer, or has had it in the past, talk to your gastroenterologist today about staying on top of your regular screenings.

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Some of the major symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Yellowing eyes or skin (Jaundice)
  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored or greasy stools
  • Stomach or upper abdominal pain that spreads to your back
  • Sudden weight loss or poor appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • New-onset diabetes
  • Blood clots
  • Depression

If you are experiencing any or a combination of these symptoms of pancreatic cancer please reach out to an expert in gastroenterology through your local GI Alliance.

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What are the treatments for pancreatic cancer?

There are several treatments for pancreatic cancer. The treatment process will be decided by your physician depending on the stage of the cancer. Some of the major categories of treatment for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Ablative treatments to remove tumors (extreme cold or heat)
  • Embolization treatments to remove tumors (block blood flow to tumors)
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Clinical trials
  • Immunotherapy (stimulation of immune system)

You can decide the best course of treatment for your cancer with your expert gastroenterologist at GI Alliance.

Hope for patients with pancreatic cancer

As pancreatic cancer is seldom detected in its early stages, it is crucial to stay on top of your screenings for the disease if you are at elevated risk. You can partner with a local gastroenterologist through the nation's largest physician-led network of GI doctors, GI Alliance. If you or a loved one is experiencing troubling gastrointestinal symptoms such as those of pancreatic cancer listed above, then please contact GI Alliance without delay.

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