Pancreatic cancer is one of the serious cancers that spreads rapidly and rarely detected in its early stages.
In United States, it is the fourth common cancer and is responsible for more than 33,000 deaths a year.
In spite of much advancement in the fight against cancer, the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is extremely poor.
The reason is this cancer is often not suspected and diagnosis in early stages is difficult. Pancreatic cancer symptoms are asymptomatic that can be easily ignored or related to other diseases.
Yellow skin and eyes (Jaundice):
If you have pancreatic cancer, jaundice can develop, which makes your skin and eyes yellow. It can result in jaundice, when bilrubin, a breakdown product builds up in the body.
Bilrubin is a fluid produced in the liver that is eliminated in the bile normally. But, if the bile flow is blocked by the pancreatic tumor, your skin and eyes can turn to yellow color with excess pigment from bilrubin.
Your urine becomes dark in color and stools become light in color as bilrubin does not reach the bowel due to the blocked bile duct. Itching can also result when bilrubin builds up in the skin.
You cannot be able to absorb fatty foods if the release of pancreatic juice is blocked by pancreatic cancer into the intestine.
When fatty foods cannot be digested, your stools can be greasy, bulky, pale and float in the bathroom. The cancer also blocks the far end of stomach and blocks it permanently. This can result in vomiting, nausea, and pain that become worse after eating.
Seven out of ten people experience pain if they have pancreatic cancer due to the pressing of pancreatic tumor against nerves. Pancreatic pain is described as dull, constant, and localized, which begins in the stomach area and spreads to the back area.
While lying down, the pain becomes worse and becomes better when sitting forward. If your gall bladder, liver and pancreas are swollen or enlarged, your abdomen becomes tender and painful.
The common symptom of pancreatic cancer is involuntary loss of weight. When food processing functions of pancreas are interfered with cancer, it can result in weight loss. You will face problem to digest fatty foods.
Advanced pancreatic cancer treatment:
There are different surgical options to remove the cancer tumor such as pancreatoduodenectomy, total pancreatectomy and distal pancreatectomy. Depending on the location and size of the tumor, your doctor can recommend one of the procedures.
Chemotherapy can be used for reducing this cancer, which helps in relieving pain. Somatostatin drug is used to treat the cancer along with steroids. Swelling, which makes blockage worse can be reduced with this drug.
Radiotherapy also helps to shrink the cancer and relieve the symptoms. This therapy improves survival rate among patients who have been diagnosed with early stages of pancreatic cancer. This therapy also helps in reducing cancer when it spreads to other part of the body.
Radiation therapy can also improve the survival rate when the cancer does not spread to the surrounding lymph nodes.