Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer Axia College (2009) Pancreatic cancer is an abnormal, uncontrolled growth of the cells in the pancreas, which is a digestive gland located behind the stomach. The pancreas is both an endocrine and exocrine gland. Cancer of the exocrine pancreas is more common than cancerof the endocrine pancreas. Pancreaticcancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer related deaths among men and women. Pancreatic cancer remains both a challenge to diagnose and even a greater challenge to treat effectively. What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is a spongy, tube-shaped organ about six inches long. The pancreas is located in the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach. The head of the pancreas is on the right side of the abdomen. The pancreas is connected to the duodenum, the upper end of the small intestine. The narrow end of the pancreas, called the tail, extends to the left side of the body. Here they will see a picture of a pancreas in the human body. {draw:frame} National Cancer Institute. (2007). Pancreatic Cancer. Retrieved November 10, 2008, from http://www. cancer. gov.

What is pancreatic cancer? Pancreatic cancer occurswhen normal cells in the pancreas stop working properly and begin to grow uncontrollably. The types of pancreatic cancer are Ductal Adenocarcinomas and Endocrine (islet cell) tumors. The Ductal Adenocarcinomas usually begins in the ducts of the pancreas but sometimes start in the cells that produce the pancreatic enzymes (acinar cell carcinomas). Adenocarcinomas account for 75%of all pancreatic cancers. They often spread (metastasize) to the liver or lymph nodes (National Cancer Institute 2007).

An endocrine (islet cell) tumor is a growth that affects the parts of the body that secret hormone. Because an endocrine tumor arises from cells that produce hormones, the tumor itself can produce hormones and cause serious illnesses. The two types of pancreatic tumors are benign tumor and malignant tumors. Benign tumors are not cancer. They do not spread to other parts of the body and are seldom a threat to life. Often benign tumors can be removed by surgery and they are not likely to return. Malignant tumors are cancer.

They can invade and destroy nearby healthy tissues and organs. Cancer cells also can break away from the tumor and spread to other parts of the body. The spread of cancer is called metastasis. What causes cancer of the pancreas? The causes of pancreatic cancer vary and in many cases remain unknown. However, several factors have been identified that increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. The health risk factors associated with this cancer include but are not limited to, smoking and centralized or stomach obesity.

People that carry their weight in their stomach area tend to be a higher risk for pancreatic cancer. Central obesity can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 70% in some post menopausal women. Diets high in animal products, especially animal fat increase theserisks. In both men and women, central obesity is associated with increased levels of insulin and with disruption of normal endocrine and metabolic functions (Britannica Online 2007). The mechanism by which abnormally high insulin levels and dysfunctional metabolism in centrally obese individuals give rise to pancreatic cancer is unclear.

The incidence of pancreatic cancer is twice as high in smokers as in nonsmokers (Dunphy; E P, October 12, 2008). The increased risk can be correlated with the length and duration of a patient’s smoking history. The environmental risk factors associated with this cancer are certain dyes, pesticides and petroleum products. Uncontrollable factors include things such as age, sex; males are 30% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than females, and illnesses such as diabetes mellitus and chronic pancreatitis. Table 1: Causes of Pancreatic Cancer What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

The symptoms are wide ranged but usually do not appear till in the late stages of the cancer. That is one of the reasons that this is such a deadly killer. Some of the more common symptoms are shared by other diseases and is another factor that causes this disease so hard to diagnose. Pain in the upper back or upper abdomen, loss of appetite, weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine), indigestion, nausea and vomiting. This is a list of the more common symptoms but as with each individual the symptoms can be different in each.

As with any unknown disease, a physician is the best place to start to protect peopleshealth and get a correct diagnosis. How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed? The physician will order a variety of possible diagnostic tests. A blood test can assess various pancreatic and liver functions and may suggest pancreatic cancer. If cancer is suspected a needle biopsy is usually conducted to examine the pancreas cells themselves for signs of cancer (Britannica Online 2007). These procedures are invasive and can cause complications including pancreatitis.

In order to make a correct diagnosis and to determine the stage of the cancer it is possible to use multiple imaging techniques to allow doctors to see the pancreas even though it is deep within the abdominal cavity. Some imaging tests used is the computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and different types of ultrasounds ( Ershler, W. B. December 2007). Various techniques that combine contrast agents (dyes) with x-ray imaging are also used. An angiography is sometimes used to view blood vessels to determine if the cancer has spread through the walls feeding into the pancreas (Britannica Online 2007).

What are the stages of pancreatic cancer? Once pancreatic cancer has been diagnosed, its stage is then determined to indicate how far the cancer has progressed. Stage one cancers are confined to the pancreas and have not spread to nearby lymph nodes. Stage two cancers have spread locally to the bile duct or small intestine but have not reached the lymph nodes. Stage three tumors have reached these nodes. Stage four cancers have spread to the other organs such as lungs, liver, spleen or colon (Web MD 2008).

The graph below shows the size of the possible tumors through the various stages of pancreatic cancer. {draw:frame} What are some of the possible side effects of using surgery as a treatment option? As with any surgery it is a very invasive procedure. When thebody is cut and opened up it can lead to several problems that can be fatal depending on the health and condition of the patient. Pneumonia is a condition that can stem from having a surgical procedure. Anemia from blood loss, malabsorption, steatorrhea, and in some patient’s anorexia can occur.

These are valid side effects when undergoing any surgical procedure so it, is vital that a physician is sure that this is themost viable option. Post operative care and treatment is another consideration. Radiation therapy is usually followed after surgery. Some of the additional side effects just from the radiation itself include but is not limited to diarrhea and skin rashes. Chemotherapy suppresses the immune system leaving the body venerable to a host of other germs that under any other circumstances would not affect people, such as the common cold.

Hair loss is a mild discomfort to endure when peopleconsider the other side effects from chemotherapy. Nausea, vomiting, nervousness, jaundice and dehydration can lead to kidney failure (Web MD, 2008).

References: Dunphy, EP. (2008, October 12). Pancreatic cancer. A review and update. Clinical journal of oncology nursing, p 735-41. Retrieved December 2, 2008 from EBSCOhost database. Ershler, William. (2007, December 29). Diagnosing early pancreatic cancer. Internal medicine, vol. 29 Issue 24, p 189-90. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from EBSCOhost database.

Medicine Net. (2007). Pancreatic cancer. Retrieved November 10, 2008, from http://www. medicinenet. com/pancreatic_cancer National Cancer Institute. (2007). Pancreatic cancer. Retrieved November 12, 2008, from http://www. cancer. gov Pancreatic Cancer. (2008). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved November 22, 2008, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www. search. eb. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com/eb/article-214138 WebMD. (2007). Pancreatic Cancer. Retrieved November 28, 2008, from http://www. webmd. com.

The stages of pancreatic cancer are used to describe how advanced the cancer is in your body. The higher the stage number, the more widespread the cancer is. These stages are important when choosing the best treatments for you. Your …

Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which cells become abnormal and multiply without control or order and form a malignant tumor in the tissues of the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland about 6 inches long that is shaped like …

The Pancreatic Cancer is a malignant tumour lying within the pancretic gland. Stated simply, the development of the cancer is attributed to cancerous cells forming in the tissues of the pancreas. It is uncommon for patients of pancreatic cancer to …

The pancreas is a large organ located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. It is gladuale organ that is made up of tissues and ducts. This gland is part of the digestive systemin relation to the endocrine gland …

“Cancer of the pancreas is a genetic disease that is the fifth most common cause of death in both men and women. Pancreatic cancer affects approximately 28,000 Americans each year, or five out of 100,000 people” (Mayo Clinic, 1998). According …

Pancreatic cancer is currently known as the fourth leading cause of death in both genders (Oliveira-Cunha et al. , 2007) making up 6% of all cancer-related deaths. In addition, the incidence of this has been slowly rising. These cancers can …

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