Malignant pancreatic tumor: Why is it difficult to treat?
Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of malignant cells in the pancreas. It is also a common cancer in middle-aged and elderly people. The cause is not clear, the treatment is still difficult. Therefore, having an understanding of this pathology, active screening for early detection is very necessary.
1. What is pancreatic cancer?
The pancreas is a gland that belongs to both the digestive system and the endocrine system. The pancreas is located deep in the abdomen, between the stomach and the spine. The function of the pancreas is to make enzymes that help with digestion and hormones that control blood sugar.
All organs in the body, including the pancreas, are made up of cells. Normally, cells divide automatically in a controlled manner to form new cells when the body needs them. As cells age, they die and new cells take their place.
Sometimes this process breaks down. New cells form even when the body doesn't need them or the old cells haven't died yet. These cells can form a mass of tissue called a tumor. Some tumors are benign, which means they are abnormal but have not invaded other parts of the body. Whereas, a malignant tumor would be called cancer. These cells grow out of control and can spread to other tissues and organs.
Thus, pancreatic malignancy or pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells in the pancreas grow and divide out of control and form a malignancy. The most common sites for pancreatic cancer to spread are the liver, abdominal wall, lungs, bones, or lymph nodes.
According to statistics, pancreatic cancer is the 9th most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and 10th in men.
Anatomically, pancreatic tumors are exocrine or neuroendocrine (endocrine) tumors. This is based on the type of cell they start in. Understanding the nature of the tumor type is important because each type works differently and responds to different treatments:
Approximately 93% of pancreatic cancers are exocrine tumors. The most common type of exocrine pancreatic cancer is adenocarcinoma. About 7% of pancreatic tumors are neuroendocrine tumors, also known as islet cell tumors. They usually grow more slowly than exocrine tumors.
2. What causes pancreatic cancer?
What is the exact cause of pancreatic cancer is still not clear.
Approximately 5% to 10% of cases of pancreatic malignancy are considered familial or hereditary. The remaining pancreatic cancers occur randomly or are caused by familiar factors such as smoking, obesity and age.
In addition, you may have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer if you have:
Two or more close relatives who have had pancreatic cancer One relative who had pancreatic cancer before the age of 50 Have a related genetic syndrome to malignant pancreatic tumor If you have any of these, you should be proactive and consult a genetic counselor to determine your risk and participate in screening programs.
In addition, a person may also be more susceptible to pancreatic cancer when he or she has:
Long-standing diabetes Chronic pancreatitis Inherited pancreatitis Smoking Smoking African-American or Jewish race Ashkenazi Age over 60 years Male gender Diet high in red and processed meat Obesity This does not mean that all people with these risk factors will develop pancreatic cancer, but most people with All pancreatic malignancies have one or more of the above factors.
3. What are the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic cancer can cause only vague, unexplained symptoms, such as:
Abdominal pain Back pain Weight loss Jaundice, yellow eyes Loss of appetite Nausea Change in bowel movements Pancreatitis Recent-onset diabetes Venous thromboembolism
4. How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?
A malignant pancreatic tumor can only be detected when suspected and indicated by computed tomography (CT scan), abdominal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or endoscopic ultrasound.
Once the tumor is located, the doctor takes a sample of tumor tissue to find the correct diagnosis. This is the "gold standard" of pancreatic cancer.
However, in most cases, pancreatic cancer is difficult to find. This is because the pancreas is located deep in the abdomen, so doctors often cannot see or feel a tumor during a physical exam. In addition, pancreatic cancer symptoms are not always obvious and often develop over time.
Instead, doctors may use several tests to make a diagnosis. However, there is no standard test for the diagnosis of pancreatic malignancy as an alternative to biopsy. It is precisely this that makes the diagnosis of this disease more difficult or even more complicated. In some cases, exploratory surgery is required for diagnosis.
5. How is pancreatic cancer treated?
Treatment of pancreatic cancer depends on the stage of the disease and the patient's general health and comorbidities.
The “classic” standard treatment is surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Besides, clinical trials studying new treatments are always strongly encouraged, initially yielding somewhat positive results.
However, in the majority of cases, pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis because it is difficult to treat. Surgery may be the best solution to control pancreatic cancer for a long time, but most patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage and are, therefore, ineligible for surgery. Therefore, it is very important to detect the disease early and perform tests to find pancreatic cancer in the earliest stages.
One reason pancreatic malignancies are difficult to treat is the anatomical challenge of pancreatic tumors surrounded by a dense layer of tissue. This makes it difficult for treatment to reach the tumor. Researchers are exploring ways to treat this tissue through the tissue to make interventions more effective.
In addition, some cancers have been successfully treated with targeted therapies that block specific mutations. However, these drugs have not been developed specifically for patients with pancreatic cancer.
6. How to recover after surgery for malignant pancreatic tumor?
Recovery from pancreatic cancer surgery can be a long and difficult process more than other surgical interventions. Patients will be in a lot of pain after surgery and therefore need to be assured that adequate pain medication is prescribed.
Besides, after any type of surgery on the digestive system, the intestinal tract is always temporarily shut down. This means that the sick person will not be able to eat or drink right away. You will start by drinking some water, sugar water, porridge, soup before you can eat and drink as usual.
Therefore, during the postoperative period and the time after, you will be advised by nutritionists about the right foods to restore your body after surgery as well as strengthen your health against cancer. cancer. At the same time, replacement therapy with synthetic pancreatic enzymes is indicated. These are oral tablets that contain the enzymes needed to help digest food and absorb nutrients.
After the tumor has been removed, all patients will continue treatment with a course of chemotherapy lasting 6 months. If the patient responds well, the patient's prognosis will improve significantly.
In a nutshell, pancreatic cancer starts in the tissues of your pancreas. This disease is often difficult to cure because it is rarely detected in the early stages while the disease is only discovered when it has spread to other organs. Treatment options for pancreatic cancer depend on the extent of the cancer and include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of both. If detected early and respond well, the prognosis of new malignant pancreatic tumors is improved somewhat.
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References: mayoclinic.org, cancer.org, medicalnewstoday.com, nhs.uk, pancan.org