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Name of the Disease: Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreas secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars.
Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in your pancreas develop genetic mutations. These mutations cause the cells to grow uncontrollably and to continue living after normal cells would die. These accumulating cells can form a tumor.
Pancreas is eligible for transplantation. About 100 transplant centers in the United States perform pancreas transplantations. About 1200 cases are performed annually in the United States.
The success rate expressed as the probability of being cured of diabetes (not needing any insulin) 1 year after the transplant is around 85%.
- The Location of the Pancreas
- Pancreas Cancer
Means of Disease Transmission
Although scientists do not know exactly what causes cancer of the pancreas, they are learning that some things increase a person's chance of getting this disease. Smoking is a major risk factor. Research shows that cigarette smokers develop cancer of the pancreas two to three times more often than nonsmokers. There are also other risk factors:
Increasing age, especially over age 60, being black, being overweight or obese, chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), diabetes, family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM), and personal or family history of pancreatic cancer. The disease is not contagious.
Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don't occur until the disease is advanced. When signs and symptoms do appear, they may include:
Upper abdominal pain that may radiate to your back
Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
Loss of appetite
Jaundice. Pancreatic cancer that blocks the liver's bile duct can cause jaundice. Signs include yellow skin and eyes, dark-colored urine, and pale-colored stools.
Pain. A growing tumor may press on nerves in your abdomen, causing pain that can become severe.
Bowel obstruction. Pancreatic cancer that grows into or presses on the small intestine (duodenum) can block the flow of digested food from your stomach into your intestines.
Weight loss. A number of factors may cause weight loss in people with pancreatic cancer. Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatments or a tumor pressing on your stomach may make it difficult to eat. Or your body may have difficulty properly processing nutrients from food because your pancreas isn't making enough digestive juices.
On January 1, 2007, in the United States there were approximately 32,993 men and women alive who had a history of cancer of the pancreas -- 16,057 men and 16,936 women. This includes any person alive on January 1, 2007 who had been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas at any point prior to January 1, 2007 and includes persons with active disease and those who are cured of their disease. It is estimated that in 2010 more than 43,000 individuals in the United States have been diagnosed with this condition, and 36,800 have died from the disease.
Cancer of the pancreas is curable only when it is found in its earliest stages, before it has spread. Otherwise, it is very difficult to cure. However, it can be treated, symptoms can be relieved, and the quality of the patient's life can be improved.
Pancreatic cancer is treated with surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Researchers are also studying biological therapy to see whether it can be helpful in treating this disease. Sometimes several methods are used, and the patient is referred to doctors who specialize in different kinds of cancer treatment.
What Can We Do
Although there's no proven way to prevent pancreatic cancer, it is still possible to reduce the risk of getting it. Some of the things include
Maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise most days of the week. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise on most days.
Choose a healthy diet. A diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains may help reduce your risk of cancer.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Pancreatic Cancer: Symptoms - MayoClinic.com."
. Web. 11 Apr. 2011.
"Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis, Symptoms, Stages, Causes and Treatment on MedicineNet.com." Web. 11 Apr. 2011.
"Cancer of the Pancreas - SEER Stat Fact Sheets."
SEER Web Site
. Web. 11 Apr. 2011.
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