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Pancreas Cancer : Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pancreas and its role in our body
Pancreas is digestive organ of our body which has got two major functions one is endocrine function that is maintenance of blood sugar level by regulating the hormone levels of insulin and Glucagon; Another major function is food digestion by releasing certain important enzymes mainly fat digestion
What causes pancreatic cancer
Smoking is the main cause of pancreatic cancer; More than 70% of pancreatic cancer patients give history of smoking, Alcohol causes chronic pancreatitis which is a risk factor for pancreas cancer; Hereditary factors
Symptoms & Signs of Pancreas Cancer
Anorexia and Weight Loss are common; Pancreas cancer located in the head obstruct the distal CBD and causes biliary obstruction which leads to jaundice; It is Surgical Obstructive Jaundice means patient present with features like pale colored stools, itching; Tumor at this site also causes duodenal obstruction and patient present with features of Gastric outlet obstruction like vomitting; If the pancreas cancer is located distally then most common complaint is anorexia and weight loss and the tumor can enlarge to big size before symptomatic and patient may present with lump abdomen
How Pancreas Cancer is Diagnosed
When patient present with features suggestive of pancreas cancer then Ultrasound abdomen is the first investigation which can demonstrate mass in the pancreas, dilatation of the biliary tract, pancreatic duct dilatation, any associated lymph nodes and liver metastases if present; If the tumor size is small then it may not be detected on USG then CECT abdomen is done; if the tumor is detected on ultrasound then also CT abdomen is done for tumor staging and CT gives more information than ultrasound
Diabetes First sign of Pancreas Cancer
Recent onset diabetes with weight loss Pancreas cancer should be suspected and investigated further
Survival rate of Pancreas
Pancreas cancer has got very bad prognosis; Its survival rate is poor one of the reason being it is diagnosed at late stage; if we compare stage by stage with other GI Cancer still its survival rate is poor
Pancreas Cancer can cause jaundice
As the terminal part of common bile duct passes through head of pancreas, cancer located at this site obstruct the CBD and causes jaundice
What is Whipple procedure
Whipple procedure or WPD or Pancreatico-duodenectomy procedure is done for tumors located around periampullary region like head of pancreas, terminal part of CBD, and nearby duodenal areas, In this procedure gallbladder, distal CBD, Duodenum and head of pancreas are removed, then pancreas duct is anastomosed to jejunum (Pancreatico-jejunostomy), Bile duct is anastomosed to jejunum called as (Hepatico-jejunostomy) and then Gastro-jejunostomy is done