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Pancreas Cancer: Risk Factors, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Pancreas is vital organ of our body which has got two major functions, Firstly it releases certain enzymes which help in digestion and Second it releases hormones which maintain blood glucose level

Pancreatic cancer is known for its poor prognosis; Nearly more than 25,000 new pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed every year in India, It is 13th most common cancer but 5th most common cause of death due to cancer in India; Without treatment not more than 15% patient survive more than a year and with best treatment possible still less than 15% patient survive more than 5 years

Smoking is most common risk factor, Nearly 75% patients are chronic smokers and risk equalize to non-smoker after 10 year of quitting it; Alcohol causes chronic inflammatory condition of the pancreas called chronic pancreatitis which is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer; Recent studies show long term diabetes is also a risk factor, Pancreatic cancer in itself can cause diabetes; Obesity leading to diabetes is also one of the risk factor; It runs in about 5% of families

During the early stage patient is asymptomatic, Pain is constant feature which is mild to moderate in intensity and localized to upper abdomen which may radiate to back; Anorexia and weight loss are common, Cancer located in the head of pancreas can cause distal CBD obstruction leading to jaundice and Duodenal obstruction leading to vomitting, Tumor located at body and tail region of pancreas can grow to large size without any symptom and may present as lump andomen

Ultrasound is the first investigation in patients presenting with any abdominal complaint, When it suggest a mass lesion in the pancreas, CECT abdomen is done to further delineate the mass, its relation with surrounding structures and any distant lesions; Once it suggests tumor is resectable surgery is the treatment of choice, in case of locally advanced tumor pre-operative chemoradiothearpy is given; The standard surgical procedure done in case of tumor located in head of pancreas is whipple procedure (pancreatico-duodenectomy), if it is located in the distal part distal pancreatcetomy with splenectomy is done

Patient with head tumor can have jaundice, Pre-operative biliary stenting is done if the bilirubin level is very high, patient have fever and poor general condition with poor nutrition