What is pancreatic cancer?

What is pancreatic cancer

The pancreas has both functions of endocrine secretion and exocrine secretion. Cancer that starts in the endocrine cells is called neuroendocrine tumor, by which Steve Jobs has been killed. Neuroendocrine tumor is not very common and with low degree of malignancy but long course of disease and its treatment is quite different from other common pancreatic cancers. Cancer that starts in the exocrine cells is the commonly known pancreatic cancer. It is a cancer with high degree of malignancy.

The worldwide incidence of pancreatic cancer is in a rising trend. It mostly happens among the mid-aged and old people with a higher percentage among males than females. The high risk age of pancreatic cancer is from 40 to 65, with a tendency to become younger. Pancreatic cancer has high degree of malignancy. Averagely, there is only 5-month survival after diagnosis, while in a whole, 5-year survival only accounts for 5%. Thus, pancreatic cancer gains its name “king of cancer”. Only 15%-20% patients can be treated with surgery, among which 40% of them are detected with transfusion and their survival rate after surgery is 10% only.

How does pancreatic cancer occur?

About the risk factors of pancreatic cancer, there is no clear explanation yet. However, as the researches process, many factors are found related to pancreatic cancer, including:

Smoking: people who smoke have more than 3 times risk as high as those who do not smoke.

Diet containing high protein, fat, calories: both famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti and Hong Kong artist Shen Dianxia died of pancreatic cancer due to their diet containing high level of protein, fat and calories.

Diabetes: diabetes patients are in high risk of pancreatic cancer.

Chronic pancreatitis: Chronic pancreatitis can develop into pancreatic cancer

High risk group of pancreatic cancer

These people who are more than 40 years old, are also obese, and with unhealthy life habit, for example, frequent smoking and drinking and like diet high in protein, fat and calories.

Symptoms like having diarrhea once take in fatty foods, especially with oil on stools, probably indicate that the exocrine secretion function of the pancreas has been damaged.

Youths without family history are unexpectedly attacked by diabetes. That may be a sign of pancreatic cancer. For diabetes patients with a history of more than 5 years, their risk of pancreatic cancer is 1.2 times as high as that of normal people.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Upper abdominal pain and inexplainable suffocating feeling, which sometimes slight, some times severe, occasional, but obvious at night. Have jaundice, but no disease like gallstones.

Apparent weight loss: although stomach cancer patients also have weight loss due to digestive and absorptive obstruction, but it is not as obvious as that of pancreatic cancer.

Recently have steatorrhea or suddenly worsening of diabetes.

If a pancreatic cancer patient is permitted to have radical surgery in the early stage, 5-year survival rate can be 70% to 100%. Compared with pancreatic cancer in progressing stage, the treatment effect of early pancreatic cancer is quite different. Therefore, when symptoms occur, patients should go to the hospital for thorough diagnosis and timely treatment.

Pancreatic cancer screening

Generally, people with suspect of having pancreatic cancer should take non-invasive examination methods as the first choice for screening, for example, serologic tumor marker tests and stool sample tests. For those who are suspected with pancreatic cancer, diagnostic examination of pancreatic cancer should be performed.

Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer

Ultrasound examination: it can reveal the internal structure of the pancreas and whether there is obstruction in the biliary tract.

CT: plain CT can roughly reveal size and location of the lesion but cannot accurately determine its nature while enhanced CT scan can better reveal size, location, shape, internal structure and its relation with surrounding structure. CT scan can more accurately determine whether there is liver metastasis and lymph node swelling.

MRI and MRCP examination: when there are some pathological changes that are difficult to diagnose, MRI can be performed as an additional examination of CT scans to make up the shortcoming of CT images.

Staging of pancreatic cancer

Stage 1: Cancer only can be found in the pancreas, 5-year average survival rate is about 30%;

Stage 2: Cancer invades only the nearby tissues, for example, duodenal wall, 5-year average survival rate is about 10%;.

Stage 3: Regional lymph node metastasis occurs, mean survival time is 8-12 months;

Stage 4: Liver and other distant metastasis occur, mean survival time is 3-6 months.

Treatment methods for pancreatic cancer

Nanoknife: Nanoknife is a brand new ablation therapy, which breaks the membrane of tumor cells with high voltage pulses from electrode probes, resulting in multiple permanent nano-meters Irreversible Electroporation (IRE), damaging cells balance and accelerating the death of cancer cells. Afterwards, the immune cells inside human body will remove the dead cancer cells and improve the regeneration and repair of normal cells. Professor Peng said, according to the advantage of Nanoknife, it is suitable for pancreatic cancer treatment. Referring to the study from American Surgical Association, most of the pancreatic cancer patients can have double survival rate.

Interventional therapy: Interventional therapy is a mini-invasive therapy performed under the guidance of medical imaging equipments. With a 1-2 millimeter incision, paracentesis can be performed with the lead of medical imaging equipment. Then a special tube, catheter or other sophisticated apparatus are introduced to inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells, so as to cut off the tumor’s blood supply and reach the effect of local chemotherapy without any toxic side effects of chemotherapy.

Surgery: Pancreatoduodenectomy, pancreatoduodenectomy with pylorus retained, pancreectomy, semi-pancreectomy of left pancreas, etc.

Comprehensive treatment: with surgical treatment as leading treatment and radiation therapy and chemotherapy as supplementary treatment.

Chinese medicine treatment: by oral intake or intra-arterial infusion of Chinese medicine to control cancer. Chinese medicine can effectively nurse and balance body functions to improve the patient's immunity. It is of no side-effect, non-invasive and has special advantage in treating advanced pancreatic cancer. Using Chinese medicine combined with Western medicine in comprehensively treating early pancreatic cancer and long-term nursing after treatment can get better effect.

Nursing of pancreatic cancer

Mental nursing: Establish confidence of defeating disease and keep an optimistic attitude. Join a rehabilitation group and adjust both mental and physical condition.

Life nursing: Pay attention to building up a proper dietary structure Take Chinese medicine treatment for rehabilitation and combine Chinese medicine with other therapies to strengthen the treatment effect. Regular recheck.

What kinds of supports can be obtained?

Study proved that a multi-disciplinary medical group, which is composed of surgical oncology, medical oncology, department of traditional Chinese medicine, pathology department, department of radiology, anesthetist and professional nurses, can make a more effective, more suitable and more economical treatment plan so as to improve the effect of cancer treatment.

Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou, with its multi-disciplinary "one-stop" medical system, offers comprehensive diagnosis and treatment services to patients. It not only offers patients with all-round considerate medical services, but also improves the medical efficiency and level without increasing patient’s burden. Communication channels between patients and doctors are various, which include online consultation, email, on-phone communication and face-to-face communication. All these communication channels allow patients to enjoy the service of consultation and help them fight against cancers. Medical groups and services patients include doctors, nurses, dietitians and interpreters, by whom all levels of needs of patients from different countries can be met. Under this smooth communication environment, patients can peacefully cooperate with the treatments.

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If you still have questions about Pancreatic Cancer treatment, please click the following links or have online consultation with our experts to get detailed answers.

What are the treatment options for Pancreatic Cancer patients?

Which kind of treatment has fewer side effects?

Different treatment options for different stages of Pancreatic Cancer

Prevention and treatment for metastatic Pancreatic Cancer.

How to improve the survival time and living quality of Pancreatic Cancer patients?

Voice out your inquiries to online medical professionals and you shall be provided with satisfying answers.

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Interventional Therapy

Interventional Therapy is a new substitute of traditional chemotherapy, which means that a physician introduces instruments such as needles or catheters (long, thin tubes) into the body through tiny(1-2 mm) incisions in the skin. The instruments are then guided by an imaging technique called fluoroscopy to the cancer tumor. In this way, the physician can deliver cancer medicine directly to the tumor.more info

Cryotherapy Therapy

Cryotherapy Therapy, also known as “Argon-Helium Knife Cryotherapy”, is a new substitute of traditional physical therapy. Practically speaking it is “extreme cold + extreme heat” cancer treatment. Generally, a minimum of 10-15 minutes is required to achieve an extreme analgesic (pain relieving) effect while lowering the temperature to the injured area, thus reducing the metabolic rate and swelling associated with tissue injury.more info

Particle Knife

Particle Knife is a new substitute of traditional radiation therapy. With the help of computer Treatment Planning System (TPS), radioactive particles will be implanted into tumors. The particles which release γ-rays can continuously kill tumor and cause destruction targeting tumor cells. With time, the radiation amount would accumulate to be large enough to destroy the DNA double strands of tumor cells.more info


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