Ten Endowing Facts About Pancreatic Cancer

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1. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate among all types of cancer.

• Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate and the fifth leading cause of death among all major types of cancer.
• It is a very aggressive disease and highly lethal that spreads rapidly.

2. Pancreatic cancer is a silent disease.

• Symptoms are rare in the early stage and often overlooked until in its more advanced stage.
• Symptoms are vague and often attributed to other health conditions that makes prognosis unfavorable.

3. Pancreatic cancer comes in different types.

• Cancer cells are grouped according to its location.
• Adenocarcinoma is a tumor growth from a glandular structure.
• It is the most common type of pancreatic cancer.

4. Pancreatic cancer originates from the exocrine cell of the pancreas.

• Pancreas is a glandular organ (heterocrine gland) having two diverse functions that are vital for body’s normal functioning.
• It is v vital part of the digestive system and blood sugar level modulator.
• Pancreas as exocrine gland produces digestive enzymes needed to break down of food molecules.
• Pancreas as endocrine gland produces hormones insulin and glucagon to control blood sugar.
• Pancreas is composed of numerous types of cells that are all capable to transform into cancer cells and grow out of control.
• Majority of pancreatic cells (about 99 %) is made up of exocrine tissues.

5. Pancreatic cancer may cause painless jaundice.

• Jaundice is a classical feature of liver and pancreatic disorder.
• It is manifested through skin and mucous membranes (noticeable especially on the sclera).
• Yellowish discoloration is caused be hyperbilirubenemia (elevated level of pigment bilirubin).
• In pancreatic cancer, tumor growth can cause blockage of the liver’s bile duct which is the channel that carries bile products to parts of small intestine (duodenum).
• This phenomenon causes bile retention in the systemic circulation, thus increasing blood serum bilirubin.

6. Pancreatic cancer is common in developed countries

• Statistics from National Institute of Health shows 200,000 people die annually from pancreatic cancer.
• In the United States, it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death and in Europe ranked number 6.
• Environmental factors are likely to influence the cause of pancreatic cancer.
• Incidence of pancreatic cancer is almost equal to its mortality.

7. Pancreatic cancer affects both sexes.

• This disease is common in older people age 50 and above.
• It can haunt male and female equally but men are at higher risk in developing the disease.

8. Pancreatic cancer curative treatment is through surgical intervention.

• Treatment has not improved substantially in prolonging life expectancy and survival rate over the years.
• In the advanced stage of the disease the last resort is the surgical removal of the pancreas.
• The procedure is called pancreatectomy and poses a lot of consequences like diabetes mellitus and malabsorption syndrome.
• Deficiencies in pancreatic secretions require lifetime replacement of insulin and digestive enzymes.
• Chemotherapy needs to pursue for prevention of recurrence of cancer cells.

9. There is no early detection test for pancreatic cancer.

• The pancreas is deeply situated in the abdomen lying behind the stomach and near the spleen.
• Due to its anatomical location, tumors are rarely palpable
• Diagnosis is often made in the late stage of the disease when different clinical symptoms are starting to manifest like pain in the back or abdominal area, unexplained weight loss and discoloration of the skin and sclera (jaundice).
• However, sophisticated pancreatic cancer screening makes sense only for high risk individuals.
• Hence, not everyone can be screened.

10. Pancreatic cancer prevention is better than cure.

• There is no definite ways to prevent pancreatic cancer; however you may lower the chance of having it.
• Your lifestyles determine your choices.

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