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  • Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

    Pancreatic cancer currently ranks fifth among the leading causes of cancer death and represents the growth of malignant cells in the pancreas, a pear-shaped organ located behind and below the abdomen. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine through the common bile duct and pancreatic hormones( insulin and glucagon) into the blood. Pancreatic cancer disrupts the digestive process;As the tumor grows, the bile duct can block. Most cases of the disease are noted at the age of 50 years;in men, the disease is observed somewhat more often than in women. Treatment is possible with early detection and surgical removal of the pancreas. However, pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose, and by the time symptoms appear, the cancer is already spreading, so recovery is rare. Tumor islets( insulinoma) are much less common. They release excessive amounts of insulin, causing a low level of glucose in the blood( hypoglycemia).

    Age. The risk of pancreatic cancer increases with age. Almost all patients with pancreatic cancer are over 50 years old.

    Gender. Men get sick 1,5-2 times more often than women.

    Race. Blacks are more likely to have pancreatic cancer than white people.

    Place of residence. Pancreatic cancer is more common in urban than in rural people, regardless of their social status.

    Harmful habits( smoking and alcoholism). It is believed that one third of all cases of pancreatic cancer are caused by smoking. It is possible that it is with smoking that a higher incidence of pancreatic cancer in men is associated. And alcohol stimulates the secretory function of the pancreas, creating conditions for the development of the disease.

    A diet rich in meat products and fats. There is evidence that the incidence of tumors increases with increasing fat intake. Those who adhere to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables containing retinoids and vitamins are less likely to take risks.

    Diabetes .Pancreatic cancer is more often diagnosed in patients with diabetes mellitus. The incidence is clearly associated with the development of diabetes mellitus for 2 years or more before the appearance of the tumor.

    Chronic pancreatitis ( prolonged inflammation of the pancreas) is associated with an increased risk of cancer of this localization.

    Occupational Harmfulness. Some chemicals used in oil refining, pulp and paper, asbestos production can provoke pancreatic cancer.

    Family history. It happens that in some families pancreatic cancer is found in several people. Changes in DNA can lead to an increased risk of various types of cancer.

    • The cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown.

    • Pancreatic cancer is more common in smokers with experience than non-smokers.

    • The effects of solvents, oil and coal tar components can lead to illness.

    • Hereditary pancreatitis can be associated with a greater risk of pancreatic cancer.

    • Poor appetite;weight loss.

    • Pain in the upper central or right side of the abdomen. Pain can spread to the back and can subside in the sitting position when tilted forward.

    • Jaundice.

    • Itching itch.

    • Nausea and vomiting.

    • Diarrhea or constipation, dark urine or light stools.

    • Feeling of fullness of the stomach.

    • Fatigue, depression and mood changes.

    • Tremors, irritability, profuse sweating, chills, dizziness, or muscle spasms in patients with an islet cell tumor due to hypoglycemia.

    What changes in health should you pay attention to if you are at risk? The matter is complicated by the fact that at an early stage this disease is almost not manifested, so people do not seek medical help. In some cases, there is a feeling of heaviness after eating, heartburn, bowel function is disrupted: flatulence, constipation, and occasionally diarrhea. Often there is an aversion to fatty or meat foods.

    The first alarming symptom of the disease is most often the pain that occurs in 70-85% of patients. Some patients describe it as a feeling of pressure, raspiraniya or dull constant aching pain, others complain of acute pain in the right hypochondrium or epigastric region.

    Sometimes, against the background of stupid permanent pain, there are seizures of extremely strong, unbearable pain, which last from several minutes to several hours. A person takes a forced position, leaning on the back of a chair or bending over a pillow pressed to the stomach. This pose in the form of a hook is quite typical for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. It is noted that the pain often appears or intensifies in the evening or at night, when a person lies on his back, as well as after heavy fatty foods and alcohol intake.

    Then jaundice develops, which is steadily increasing. At first, the skin has a bright yellow color with a reddish tinge, which is due to accumulating bilirubin. In the future, as oxidation of bilirubin, jaundice acquires a greenish tinge. Jaundice is accompanied by a change in the color of urine and feces. Usually, due to the overlap of the common bile duct with the tumor, the stool becomes light, looks like white clay. If blood is mixed with it, the feces acquire a silvery tinge. The urine, on the contrary, becomes dark, brown in color and resembles a beer in color.

    Most patients suffer from severe skin itching, which causes insomnia and increased irritability, often leads to numerous combs, traces of which are visible on the skin.

    Diagnosis of

    • First of all, a chest and abdominal x-ray are performed.

    • Ultrasound examination and computed tomography help detect about 80 percent of diseases. Further tests are performed if the diagnosis is uncertain.

    • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is performed using a thin tube with light( endoscope) inserted through the throat into the small intestine. In the bile duct, contrast material is injected and X-rays are made. The endoscope can also be used for biopsy.

    • Diagnosis is confirmed by pancreatic biopsy - the only accurate method for diagnosing pancreatic cancer;a sample of tissue is taken with a needle, and in some cases during a stomach operation.

    The only way to radically treat pancreatic cancer is surgery. As a rule, these operations are complex and difficult to bear by patients. With cancer of the body and tail of the pancreas, its resection is performed with removal of the spleen. In a number of cases, radiation treatment and chemotherapy are additionally carried out.
    • Surgical removal of the tumor is possible if the tumor is relatively small and has not yet spread;removal of the tumor can prolong life. It may be necessary to remove the entire pancreas, as well as parts of the small intestine.

    • An operation to bypass the bile duct blocked by a tumor can be performed to relieve the symptoms.

    • Chemotherapy in combination with radiation therapy can destroy malignant cells and weaken symptoms.

    • Analgesics or drugs prescribed to reduce pain. Antihistamines or amphetamines can be used to increase the analgesic effect. With severe pain, the surrounding nerves can be cut or destroyed by injecting alcohol during surgery. Tablets containing pancreatic enzymes can be prescribed if the food is poorly digested due to weakening of pancreatic secretion.

    Consult your doctor if you develop pancreatic cancer symptoms.

    There are currently no clear recommendations for the prevention of this disease. However, it is prudent to avoid smoking, minimize exposure to toxic chemicals at home and in the workplace, eat more fruits and vegetables, while animal fats should be limited.

    With untreated pancreas cancer, the prognosis is poor. However, with appropriate treatment, patients live for 5 years or more after detecting this type of cancer.