Even though the disease has become easier to treat over the past couple of decades thanks to advancements in medicine and early detection through screenings, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease. In recent years, more people have overcome the odds and beaten cancer. According to Dr David Seitz, MD, who serves as the Medical Director for Ascendant Detox, “Cancer develops when aberrant cells in the body start to grow and divide in an uncontrolled manner, which then causes the disease to spread to other tissues and organs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common cause of death around the world is cancer. It was responsible for about 10 million deaths in the year 2020. There are about 200 distinct forms of cancer, and it can manifest in virtually any portion of the body. Even though it is commonly believed that cancer is a disease that mostly affects people in their later years, a cancer diagnosis can occur at any age in anyone.”
However, there is some encouraging news. According to the American Cancer Society,  “According to the annual figures given by the American Cancer Society, the likelihood of a person in the United States passing away from cancer has been steadily declining over the past 28 years (ACS). From its highest point in 1991 to 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, the cancer death rate has decreased by 32% across the board, including both men and women. It would appear that a portion of this decline is attributable to an increase in the percentage of persons with lung cancer who are living longer after being diagnosed, in part because more people are being diagnosed with the disease at an earlier stage.”
While there are several common signs of cancer that can alert a person to the fact that they are sick and allow them to seek medical attention sooner, these signs are not always present “Pancreatic cancer is different,” says Dr Seitz. “Pancreatic cancer symptoms include severe fatigue, problems with eating, weight changes, changes in bowel or bladder habits, unusual bleeding or bruising, nausea or vomiting, changes in the skin, and persistent cough or pain.” It is often difficult to identify because symptoms don’t typically present themselves until the later stages of the disease.” According to Afshin Safa, MD, FACR, Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Leavey Cancer Center with Dignity Health Northridge Hospital, and Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Leavey Cancer Center, Afshin Safa is also the Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Leavey Cancer Center “Cancer of the pancreas develops when normally functioning cells in the pancreas mutate into abnormal cells and continue to proliferate uncontrollably. The pancreas is responsible for producing hormones and fluids that assist the body in the digestion of food. In the United States, pancreatic cancer ranks as the fourth largest cause of death due to cancer.” Continue reading, and make sure you don’t miss any of these sure signs that you’ve already had COVID to protect not only your health but also the health of others.
“Pancreatic cancer is rare cancer that affects 13 out of 100,000 people. Unfortunately, it has one of the highest morbidity rates out of all cancers because when it is diagnosed, it is usually advanced or metastatic,” says Ronald Tang, DO, a board-certified haematologist and oncologist at Beverly Hospital and Los Angeles Cancer Network.
The Mayo Clinic offers this explanation: “Cancer of the pancreas first develops in the tissues of the pancreas, which is an organ located in the abdomen and is situated behind the lower portion of the stomach. Your pancreas secretes enzymes that are necessary for digesting, and it also generates hormones that contribute to the regulation of your blood sugar levels. Many different kinds of tumours can develop in the pancreas, including malignant tumours and noncancerous tumours. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is the most frequent form of cancer that can develop in the pancreas. It develops in the cells that line the ducts that convey digestive enzymes away from the pancreas.”
According to Dr Tang, “Risk factors include tobacco and alcohol abuse with patients who suffer from chronic pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas which is caused by alcohol use or gallstones.” This explanation is given to patients who have chronic pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas. According to an update, a free service for dignity health doctors, Dr Safa ages and states, “Awareness of risk factors (genetic predisposition, age, smoking, and diabetes) may lead to an earlier and more aggressive evaluation for pancreatic cancer in patients who present with symptoms suspicious for the disease.”
Mayo Clinic notes, “Your risk of developing pancreatic cancer may be increased by the following factors:
Pancreatic inflammation that persists over time (pancreatitis)
A history in the family of cancer-causing genetic syndromes, such as a mutation in the BRCA2 gene, Lynch syndrome, or the familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome, can raise the probability of developing the disease.
A history of pancreatic cancer in the family
Age, with the majority of cases occurring in patients above the age of 65.
A significant amount of research has shown that smoking, having diabetes for a long period, and having a poor diet all together raise the chance of pancreatic cancer over and beyond the danger that any one of these factors alone would provide.”
According to Dr Tang, “Pancreatic cancer is exceedingly difficult to screen for because the pancreas is a small organ that resides deep within the abdomen and is hidden behind other organs.” Unfortunately, by the time symptoms such as abdominal discomfort appear, the disease has typically already progressed to a more advanced or metastatic stage. In contrast to cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate, there are no well-established screening criteria for pancreatic cancer.
“It is tough to screen for pancreatic cancer since the symptoms appear late in the course of the disease when the tumours are already enormous,” explains Dr Safa. There is neither a blood test nor an imaging modality that can be used for screening. According to the update, “If your doctor suspects that you have pancreatic cancer, they will request one or more tests to investigate the possibility.”
These may include the following:
-Imaging tests—Some examples of these are an ultrasound, a CT scan, an MRI scan, or a procedure known as an ERCP (which stands for “endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography”). These examinations produce images of the inside of the body, which might reveal any abnormal growths there may be.
-Biopsy: A biopsy involves the removal of a tiny sample of tissue from the pancreas by a medical professional.
After that, an additional medical professional will examine the sample for signs of cancer using a microscope.
To execute the biopsy, a physician will first locate the mass with the use of a CT scan or an ultrasound. Next, the physician will put a needle into the lump and remove a tissue sample with it. In addition, a biopsy can be collected using endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) or through a distinct kind of endoscopic procedure known as endoscopic ultrasound (EUS).”
According to the Mayo Clinic, pain is a significant indicator of pancreatic cancer, and the clinic also explains, “Your belly may hurt because a developing tumour is putting pressure on the nerves there, which can lead to intense discomfort. Taking pain medication may help you feel less anxious and anxious about the pain. Treatments like radiation and chemotherapy have the potential to help halt the growth of the tumour and provide some relief from the associated pain.” “Common signs of pancreatic cancer include abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice or scleral icterus), unintentional weight loss, diarrhoea, nausea, and dark urine,” says Dr Tang. “Pancreatic cancer is a disease that affects the pancreas.”
According to Dr Safa, “Pancreatic cancer can cause pain that spreads from the abdomen to the back, which is one of the disease’s telltale symptoms. The pain may be intermittent, and it frequently gets worse after eating. People who lose weight might not feel hungry at all, or they could experience satiety after eating very little food. When a person has diarrhoea, their bowel motions may appear greasy or be difficult to flush down the toilet. Jaundice is characterised by a yellowing of the skin as well as the whites of the eyes. Jaundice can also cause the skin to turn yellow.”
Dr Tang adds, “The definitive surgical removal of the tumour, radiation therapy, and/or systemic chemotherapy may be used in the treatment of localised pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, the overall survival rates for pancreatic cancer are only 11% after 5 years. Even though the rates are low, early detection is the most important factor, and if it is performed soon enough after the cancer is discovered, surgical removal of the disease is the only treatment that can cure it.”
Dr Safa continues, “Pancreatic cancer is treatable, and in certain cases, it can even be cured. People who discover their cancer at an earlier stage are more likely to have this outcome. Chemotherapy is typically the first line of defence for treating pancreatic cancer that has gone to a localised stage. Chemotherapy has the potential to reduce the size of the tumour in some patients. After administering chemotherapy for several months, surgeons are increasingly making attempts to remove the tumours themselves. Before surgical excision, radiation treatment is sometimes administered together with chemotherapy in some cases.”