Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive type of cancer. According to the Malaysian Cancer Registry’s latest report for 2007-2011, 1.77% of the reported 103,507 new cancer cases are pancreatic cancer.
This malignant cancer arises in the pancreas – an organ that has two functions:
- Releases enzymes that aids digestion
- Produces hormones that regulate blood sugar levels
Types of Pancreatic Cancer
There are different types of pancreatic cancer. The most common type of pancreatic cancer are:
- Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) – These cancerous tumours start within the exocrine cells of the pancreas that produces the digestive enzymes.
- Neuroendocrine regulate of the pancreas – Extremely rare occurring in 1:100,000 persons.
- Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) – occurs in the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer vary depending on the type of disease and can be quite vague as the symptoms tend to be persistent. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain that radiates to the back pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Recently diagnosed diabetes
The known risk factors for pancreatic cancer inclusive of:
- Family history
- Genetic syndromes
The common health risk factors inclusive of:
- Smoking cigarettes
Abnormal cells in an area of the body that develops into cancer in the future, also known as Carcinoma In Situ.
Cancer is relatively small and contained within the organ it started.
Cancer has not spread into surrounding tissues but cancer cells may have spread into the lymph nodes close to the tumour.
Cancer may have spread to surrounding tissues and lymph nodes in the area.
Cancer has spread from where it started to another organ. This is also known as secondary or metastatic cancer.
Diagnosis of the cancer is done using medical imaging technologies such as
- Computed tomography (CT scan)
- Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography (PET/CT Scan)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Treatment options for pancreatic cancer include:
- A combination of these options.