Pancreas is an organ that lies behind the lower part of your upper stomach and guts (intestine). A disease in which your body cells divide abnormally in an uncontrolled manner is called as cancer. Pancreatic cancer (cancer of the pancreas) mainly occurs in people who are above 60 years old. Generally patients arrive at the doctor’s when the cancer has already spread (in advanced stages). At that time treatment is almost always ineffective. Having diagnosed at early stage and getting operated might be a cure for pancreas cancer.
Causes of Pancreas cancer
Swollen pancreas on a long term can lead to pancreatic cancer
Exposure to chemicals like pesticides and dyes can also cause pancreatic cancer.
Mostly pancreas cancer don’t run in families. But sometimes genetic reasons can be a cause.
Old aged persons, smokers and those who are obese and diabetic are at risk for getting pancreas cancer.
Symptoms of pancreas cancer
- Urine looks dark in colour.
- Stool looks light in colour (Pale stools).
- Itchiness all over the skin.
- Pain in the abdomen or the back.
- Reduced intake of food.
- Weight loss.
- Stomach feeling sick.
- Distended gallbladder.
Diagnosing pancreas cancer
Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin) and ascites (fluid collection in abdomen). Rarely the pancreas itself can be felt sometimes upon examination of you abdomen.
Your blood will be collected and checked for two vlues. one is the bilirubin level. If it’s increased it can be due to the tumor in common bile duct. The second is CA-19-9 antigen test.The cancer cells release CA-19-9 in the blood. Please know that blood test is not confirmatory. Because these values can be high in other conditions too.
A small tissue from the afftected portion is called a biopsy. it can be sent to lab and viewed under a microscope to confirm the cancer.
Ultrasound, CT Scan and MRI can be very useful tools to find out where the cancer is actually located. Also if the cancer has spread from the pancreas to other parts of the body it can be found out by these imaging tests.
Treatments for pancreas cancer
Usually pancreatic cancer almost always needs a surgery.
- If the cancer is in the head of the pancreas, a Laparoscopic or Open Whipple’s procedure is needed. This procedure needs an experienced surgeon.
- If the cancer is in the tail of the pancreas, a distal pancreatectomy is needed. In this surgery, the tail and body of the pancreas along with the spleen are removed.
- If the cancer has spread throughout the pancreas, a total pancreatectomy is needed. Removal of the entire pancreas, part of the small intestine, a portion of the stomach, the common bile duct, the gallbladder, and the spleen. All these operations are done laparoscopically at LIMA
Avoid exposure to chemicals in work place.
Use protective gloves, masks and other safety equipment.
Maintain a healthy body weight.
Keep sugar levels in check and under control.
One of the few centers in the country to regularly perform Lap Whipples Procedure.
Lap Whipples Specialists
Dr. J. S. Rajkumar
M.S., F.I.C.S., Dip. N.B. (SURG.), F.R.C.S. (ENG.), F.R.C.S. (EDIN.), F.R.C.S. (GLASGOW), F.R.C.S. (IRELAND), F.I.M.S., F.A.I.S., F.R.M.S. (LONDON), F.A.E. (GASTRO), F.A.C.G. (USA), F.I.C.A. (USA), F.I.A.G.E.S., Dip M.I.S. (FR.)
Dr. Prabhakaran Raju
Consultant Surgical Gastroenterolgy
M.B.B.S., M.S (GENERAL SURGERY), Mch(SGE)