Pancreas is a secreting gland placed right behind the stomach. It is about 6 inches long but less than 2 inches wide, and extends horizontally across the abdomen.
The pancreas contains two separate glands, the exocrine and endocrine glands. Exocrine glands releases substances into the ducts, the endocrine gland releases substances into the blood-stream. More than 95% of the cells in the pancreas are exocrine glands and ducts. The exocrine glands produce pancreatic juices, which contains enzymes that help digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the food. The exocrine ducts carry this pancreatic juice to the common bile duct and eventually to the small intestine.
A small percentage of the cells in the pancreas are endocrine cells. These cells are arranged in small clusters called islets. The islets release 2 hormones, insulin and glucogen. Insulin is important in reducing the amount of sugar in the blood while glucogen increases it.
Age – Almost 70% of patients with pancreas cancer are above 65 years of age.
Gender- Men are more likely to develop cancer of the pancreas as compared to women.
Tobacco and Alcohol- The risk of developing pancreas cancer increases with the intake combination of tobacco and alcohol.
Diet- Diet with high fat content may increase the risk of developing pancreas cancer. Fruits and vegetables have an effect of reducing the risk.
Diabetes Mellitus – Pancreatic cancer is more common in people with this disease.
Chronic Pancreatitis – This is a long term inflammation of the pancreas. This condition is associated with an increased risk of Pancreatitis cancer.
Occupational exposure – Heavy exposure to certain pesticides, dyes and chemicals related to gasoline may increase the risk of developing cancer of the pancreas.
Family history – An inherited tendency to develop this cancer may be a factor in a large no. of cases.
Stomach problems – Infection of the stomach with the ulcer causing bacteria H-Pylori increases the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Signs and symptoms
Blood clots or fatty tissue abnormalities
Diagnosis as per modern science
Positron emission tomography
Magnetic resonance Imaging
Several Blood Tests
Stage I – The tumor is confined to the pancreas and is less than 2cms in size. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant sites.
Stage II – The tumor is either confined to the pancreas or growing outside the pancreas but not into large blood vessels. It has spread to nearby lymph nodes but not to distant sites.
Stage III – The tumor is growing outside the pancreas into large blood vessels. It may or may not have spread to lymph nodes. It has not spread to other organs.
Stage IV – The cancer has spread to distant sites.