Types of Cancer
Pancreatic cancer affects the pancreas, which is an organ that is about 6 inches long and that is located behind the stomach. The pancreas produces enzymes that help digest food and hormones including insulin that manage the body’s blood sugar. The most common type of pancreatic cancer is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) which starts in the cells that line the ducts of the pancreas. Because of the asymptomatic nature of pancreatic cancer, it is often diagnosed in advanced stages often having spread to other organs and parts of the body. As a result, this is one of the most challenging cancers to treat.
What you should know
Factors that increase the risk for pancreatic cancer include lifestyle ones like smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, diet that is high in processed meats and poor in fruit and vegetables, and obesity. Additional factors include type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation of the pancreas, and family history of the disease. Most people with pancreatic cancer are over the age of 65.
Because pancreatic cancer does not necessarily produce noticeable symptoms, oftentimes when detected, it is at advanced stages. Jaundice that includes yellowing of the skin and eyes can occur when the cancer blocks the liver's bile duct. Loss of appetite and weight loss is common and pain in the abdomen can occur. Light colored stool and dark-colored urine can result. Fatigue, pain and swelling particularly in the arms and legs, itching, and diabetes that becomes more difficult to manage are other symptoms.
Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are common conventional treatments for pancreatic cancer which can be very aggressive on the body. Other less invasive therapies to consider include more innovative methods that include immunotherapies. Schedule a consult with our medical staff to better understand how Dayspring Cancer Clinic can help you with your therapy options.