A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can be devastating for both the patient
and his or her loved ones. This relatively rare cancer is notorious for
being difficult to treat, because it is often diagnosed in later stages.
Fortunately, oncology specialists are more equipped than ever to diagnose
and treat pancreatic cancer, and at
MountainView Hospital, our multidisciplinary cancer team is prepared to offer advanced treatments
combined with compassionate care. Here are the facts you need to know
about pancreatic cancer.
What is pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic cancer is cancer that forms in the cells of the pancreas. In most cases, the
cancer forms in exocrine pancreas cells, which are responsible for releasing
enzymes that assist in digestion. Less frequently, cancer develops in
neuroendocrine cells, which submit hormones including insulin and glucagon.
Cancer in the exocrine cells is difficult to diagnose in many cases, since
it doesn’t cause symptoms until the disease is advanced. Because
cancer in neuroendocrine cells disrupts hormone levels, which causes symptoms,
it is more likely to be diagnosed in early stages.
What are the symptoms?
In many cases, pancreatic cancer doesn’t cause symptoms until it
has spread outside of the pancreas. When symptoms do occur, they including
jaundice, itchy skin, back or belly pain, loss of appetite, and nausea.
In some cases, it can cause diabetes, periods of hypoglycemia, stomach
ulcers, and uneven texture of fatty skin tissue. Often, the symptoms that
lead to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer are symptoms caused when the
cancer spreads to another organ.
What treatments are available?
As with all types of cancer, early diagnosis can make a dramatic difference
in treatment outcomes for pancreatic cancer. Treatment options for pancreatic
cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapy.
Typically, patients with pancreatic cancer receive more than one type
of treatment as part of their care plans.
The cancer team at MountainView Hospital offers comprehensive cancer care
in a dedicated unit staffed with a knowledgeable team—many of whom
have survived cancer. You can get more information about cancer care as
well as all of our other hospital services, including stroke care and
robotic surgery, by calling (702) 233-5300.