Most cases of pancreatic cancer are caused by exocrine tumors. About 95 percent of cancer of the exocrine pancreas are adenocarcinomas. These cancers usually begin in the ducts of the pancreas, but they sometimes develop from the cells that make the pancreatic enzymes. Less common types of cancer of the pancreas include adenosquamous carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and giant cell carcinomas. It is estimated that more than 56,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year.
Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors
The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age, and those with family history also have a higher risk. Below is a complete list of pancreatic cancer risk factors:
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Cirrosis of the liver
- Occupational exposure
- Bladder birth defects
- Family history
- Genetic syndromes
- Stomach problems
Pancreatic Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Pancreatic cancer is often hard to detect. If any of the signs and symptoms described below are present, certain exams and tests may be done to determine whether the symptom is caused by pancreatic cancer or another disease. It’s also important to note that if these symptoms occur, pancreatic cancer might already be in its late stages, so seek medical advice right away.
- Abdominal or back pain
- Weight loss and poor appetite
- Digestive problems
- Gallbladder enlargement
- Blood clots or fatty tissue abnormalities
- Carcinoid tumors
- Non-functioning tumors
- Pancreatic Screening
Unfortunately, one reason for the often-poor outlook for people with pancreatic cancer is that very few of these cancers are found early. The pancreas is located deep inside the body and can’t be seen or felt by physicians during routine exams. Right now, there are no blood tests to find early cancers of the pancreas. Doctors are looking to see if something called endoscopic ultrasound can be useful in screening people with a high risk of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
Treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients often include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy. One form of radiation therapy, the most powerful advancement in cancer treatment ever available in Southern Nevada, is CyberKnife® Radiosurgery. The technology is exclusive to Comprehensive and offers patients with a painless, non-invasive treatment alternative that uses computer-operated robotics and image guidance technology to treat hard-to-reach tumors like those found in pancreatic cancer.
In addition, clinical trials are regularly conducted to identify new or expanded cancer therapies to improve treatment outcomes for pancreatic cancer. Through participation in clinical trials, patients can help physicians identify new and promising therapies, while expanding their own treatment options. For more information about our research efforts, click here.