What Is Pancreatic Cancer, Causes And Strategy For Early Detection, Treatment Options

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who had been suffering from a pancreatic ailment for over a year, died on Sunday evening, March 17, 2019. Here’s why pancreatic cancer is so hard to detect or treat.

Pancreatic cancer: Why the condition is so hard to detect and treat, who's at risk and can you prevent it?

Pancreatic cancer: Why the condition is so hard to detect and treat, who’s at risk and can you prevent it?  |  Photo Credit: Thinkstock


New Delhi: Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that begins in the cells that line the ducts of the pancreas, an organ lying behind the lower part of the stomach. The problem with pancreatic cancer is that it does not cause symptoms until the condition is advanced. Meanwhile, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who had been suffering from a pancreatic ailment for over a year, died at his private residence near Panaji on Sunday evening, March 17, 2019. Parrikar, 63, a former defence minister, was reportedly suffering from pancreatic cancer.

According to health experts, about 95 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer die from it because it often shows no or vague symptoms during the early stages, when the tumour would be most treatable. Often the cancer is discovered at advanced stages when abdominal pain or jaundice may result, making it the condition so lethal. Other signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer include significant weight loss, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, diabetes, liver enlargement, etc.

Is there a screening strategy for early detection of pancreatic cancer?

Unfortunately, there is no general screening tool or early detection test for pancreatic cancer. However, researchers across the world are working hard to find clues that could help detect the disease earlier, as well as to determine which groups of people would benefit most from screening.

What causes pancreatic cancer? Who is at risk of pancreatic cancer?

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is not known, perhaps, scientists aren’t sure why these uncontrolled growth cells occur in the pancreas. However, they’ve discovered some risk factors such as:

  1. Genetics – changes or damage to a person’s DNA, heredity, etc.
  2. Lifestyle – smoking, excess weight, a diet high in fat and red meat but low in fruits and vegetables, heavy alcohol use, etc.
  3. Environmental – exposure to certain chemicals that can result in cancerous growths.
  4. Age – The risk of developing pancreatic cancer goes up as people age. Most patients are older than 45 and nearly 90 per cent of cases are older than 55.
  5. Gender – Men are slightly more likely to suffer from pancreatic cancer than women, which may be partly due to higher tobacco use in men.
  6. Medical conditions – Chronic pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, diabetes, etc.

Treatment options for pancreatic cancer

Treatment depends on a variety of factors, including the type and stage of cancer, the person’s age and health status, etc. The most common treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Can you prevent pancreatic cancer?

There is no definitive way to prevent pancreatic cancer. But there are steps you can take to help reduce your risk. These include- eating a healthy diet consisting plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, staying at a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking, limiting alcohol use, and managing other conditions linked to pancreatic cancer (such as diabetes), may help reduce your risk of developing the disease.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.

Categories: Health

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: