Rohilkhand Cancer Institute

Everything You Should Know About Pancreatic Cancer (Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment)


The pancreas is an important organ that helps our bodies regulate blood sugar levels by manufacturing two crucial hormones, glucagon, and insulin. Insulin aids in the absorption of glucose from digested meals, whereas glucagon nourishes the body by boosting glucose levels when they are low. The pancreas, which is placed behind the stomach, plays a crucial role in digestion by providing enzymes needed to digest fats, proteins, and carbs.

Pancreatic cancer, also known as pancreas cancer, is the growth of malignant cells in pancreatic tissues. Because of the position of the organ, this cancer is frequently found at a later stage, making early detection difficult. As a result, pancreatic cancer is sometimes known as a silent disease.


Pancreatic cancer symptoms are subtle, even in late stages, and are not visible in the early stages. This delays the disease’s early detection. Some of the symptoms observed in the later phases are as follows:

The weight reduction that occurs suddenly
Lower back and abdominal discomfort
Clots in the blood
The whites of the eyes and skin turn yellow, giving the impression of jaundice.
Appetite suppression
Diabetes is characterized by an abrupt increase in blood sugar levels.
Weakness and exhaustion
Excessive thirst or hunger
Urine is dark in color.
Leg discomfort, swelling, and redness
Vomiting and nausea
Stools that are light in tone or greasy

Pancreatic cancer develops when the DNA of pancreatic cells is altered. The changed cells proliferate fast, forming tumors that begin to enter the healthy area of the pancreas, destroying the healthy cells. If left untreated, these tumors can spread to neighboring lymph nodes, blood arteries, tissues, organs, bones, and, finally, the brain. Pancreatic cancer is most commonly detected in the cells that border the pancreatic ducts. Pancreatic exocrine cancer, often known as pancreatic adenocarcinoma, is a kind of pancreatic cancer. Cancer can develop in pancreatic hormone-producing cells or neuroendocrine cells. This type of cancer produces cancers known as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, islet cell tumors, and pancreatic endocrine cancer.

The root causes of pancreatic cancer remain unknown. Normal cells have a reasonable growth and death rate; however, in the event of cancer, the growth rate increases fast, destroying healthy cells. Doctors and researchers have not discovered a definitive cause for this problem, although studies indicate that inherited gene mutation could be one of the key causes.


Pancreatic cancer is classified into two categories. These are as follows:

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma – This type of pancreatic cancer attacks the pancreas’ exocrine cells. Exocrine cells are plentiful in the pancreas, which aids in the production of pancreatic enzymes such as proteases, lipase, and amylase, as well as the creation of pancreatic ducts. This is the most common type of pancreatic cancer, affecting 95% of pancreatic cancer patients.

Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) – This type of pancreas cancer is extremely rare and develops in the pancreas’ endocrine cells. Endocrine cells are important for producing hormones and regulating blood sugar, among other things.


Though there are no known causes of pancreatic cancer, some risk factors are thought to increase the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer.

Consumption of high-fat foods – Consumption of high-fat foods raises cholesterol levels in the body, impairing the operation of various organs, including the pancreas.

Diabetes – When blood sugar levels are out of control, it disrupts the functionality of internal organs and causes significant damage.

Tobacco usage – Tobacco use is the leading cause of many cancers. Smoking promotes the growth of cancer cells by destroying healthy ones.

Obesity and Lack of Exercise – Regular exercise is a great method to keep healthy. Working out for at least 30 minutes per day strengthens your immune system, allowing it to fight against a variety of fatal diseases. Obesity boosts hormone production, resulting in hormonal imbalances that can contribute to pancreatic cancer.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption – Most persons who drink alcohol are predisposed to a variety of ailments. Alcohol impairs the function of internal organs, including the pancreas.

dangerous Chemical Exposure – Avoid regular exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides by taking the necessary precautions.

dangerous Chemical Exposure – Avoid regular exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides by taking the necessary precautions.

Liver Damage – If you have a chronic kidney disease, you are more prone to get pancreatic cancer. The liver and pancreas collaborate to digest and filter food.

Family History – If you have a history of pancreatic cancer in your ancestors or direct family, you are more likely to develop the disease yourself. This could be the result of a genetic mutation.


When pancreatic cancer is detected early, life expectancy increases. However, early detection is extremely unlikely. If your doctor suspects that you have pancreatic cancer, he or she will prescribe that you undergo one or more of the following tests to confirm the diagnosis.

CT & MRI Scan – During this test, a cross-sectional image of your internal organs is recorded in order to learn more about the cancer that is present inside. This is accomplished by the use of ultrasonic scans, X-rays, and magnetic beams. A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is occasionally recommended to better diagnose the problem.

Endoscopic Ultrasound – This test involves inserting a small tube into your throat (esophagus) that travels to your belly and records images of the pancreas internally. This treatment is carried out with the assistance of ultrasound images displayed through the camera linked to the flexible tubing.

Biopsy – A small piece of tissue from the pancreas is collected to learn more about the cancer. This is accomplished by using ultrasound pictures to guide fine needles through the skin to the pancreatic. After obtaining the sample tissue, it is examined under a microscope for additional data such as the stage of malignancy and the severity of the infection.

A blood test is extremely infrequently used to diagnose pancreatic cancer. Doctors, on the other hand, examine for the presence of a specific protein – CA19-9 – in the blood, which proves the existence of cancer. The concentration of this protein is tested to assess the treatment process.


Because pancreatic cancer is frequently identified in advanced stages, the treatment available cannot destroy the cancer cells. The treatment focuses on slowing the growth of cancer cells and improving quality of life by preventing additional damage. Some of the therapeutic options available to alleviate the discomfort caused by pancreatic cancer include:

Surgery in the pancreatic body and tail – This procedure is called distal pancreatectomy. During this procedure left side of the pancreas is removed to eradicate the tumor. Sometimes the spleen is also removed during this surgery.
Surgery on the pancreas – Surgery is performed to remove the tumor from the pancreas. This is known as a Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy). To remove the tumor, the head of the pancreas is detached from other nearby organs such as the gallbladder, stomach, bile duct, and small intestine during the Whipple procedure. The doctor reconnects the organs after the cancer is removed. This operation is complex and takes a high level of knowledge to do.

Distal pancreatectomy is surgery performed on the pancreatic body and tail. To eliminate the cancer, the left part of the pancreas is excised during this treatment. During this surgery, the spleen is sometimes removed as well.

Surgery in the pancreatic body and tail – This procedure is called distal pancreatectomy. During this procedure left side of the pancreas is removed to eradicate the tumor. Sometimes the spleen is also removed during this surgery.
Surgery to remove the entire pancreas – A total pancreatectomy is a technique in which the entire pancreas is removed to remove the tumor. With the use of insulin and enzyme replacement, life expectancy after pancreas removal can be extended.

operation for tumors affecting adjacent blood vessels – This operation is performed by expert surgeons at the most advanced stage of malignancy. The tumor and adjacent blood arteries are removed during this treatment to prevent the infection from spreading.

Typically, pancreatic cancer procedures have problems such as bleeding and infection. Because of the body’s difficulties emptying the stomach, there may be a persistent feeling of nausea after the procedure.

Surgery in the pancreatic body and tail – This procedure is called distal pancreatectomy. During this procedure left side of the pancreas is removed to eradicate the tumor. Sometimes the spleen is also removed during this surgery.
Chemotherapy is a targeted medicinal therapy used to kill cancer cells. The chemotherapy medications vary from patient to patient as the combination of drugs may fluctuate based on the severity of the disease. Chemoradiation is used in later stages of cancer where the cancer has gone beyond the pancreas. Chemoradiation therapy is performed before surgery to shrink the tumor and after surgery to prevent the recurrence of pancreatic cancer.

Radiation Therapy – When treating pancreatic cancer, radiation therapy is frequently combined with chemotherapy. This treatment is carried out using high-energy beams of X-rays and protons. Doctors propose combination therapy when surgery fails to cure the condition. A sequence of beams from a moving machine point is directed toward the body at certain points in this treatment. Radiation therapy is a medical approach that is regularly used to cure advanced cancer.

Clinical Trials – Clinical trials allow oncologists to test new treatment methods for cancer. Clinical trials may not promise a cure and can result in severe negative effects right away. These trials are conducted with patient consent and are thoroughly supervised to avoid any mishaps. Not all pancreatic patients are subjected to clinical trials.

Palliative Care – Palliative or supportive care is often the last chance for cancer patients who have reached the end of their therapeutic options. This treatment aims to alleviate pain and suffering caused by sickness. During the healing process, the treatment helps to strengthen your emotions and mental health. There is evidence of speedier recovery when palliative care is combined with other therapeutic approaches.

If pancreatic cancer is not treated, it can result in consequences such as –

Weight loss – When pancreatic tumors are not treated on time, they grow swiftly. These tumors strain the stomach walls. This causes a decrease in appetite. The sensations of nausea and vomiting are also causes of appetite loss. When food intake is restricted, substantial weight loss occurs. Once identified, doctors typically give pancreatic enzyme supplements to aid digestion.

Pancreatic cancer produces jaundice by obstructing the bile duct in the liver. Doctors recommend surgery to maintain the bile duct open by inserting a plastic or metal tube. Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is the name given to this procedure.

Pain – When found at an advanced stage, pancreatic cancer is difficult to cure. Advanced-stage tumors produce excruciating agony by compressing adjacent organs, tissues, and blood vessels. A doctor may prescribe pain relievers to aid with the discomfort. When the agony becomes intolerable, doctors will inject alcohol into the nerves to relieve the pain. Through nerve signals, this treatment disrupts the connection between the nerves and the brain.

Pancreatic cancer produces bowel obstruction due to tumor growth, which causes difficulty in bowel motions. This issue is treatable by surgery to maintain your small intestine open.


Although the causes of pancreatic cancer are unknown, it can be avoided by following a few simple guidelines. Certain risk variables, such as age, heredity, and gender, are unavoidable. Here are some prevention tips for pancreatic cancer:

Quit smoking – Smoking is the leading cause of several types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer.

Maintaining a healthy weight requires frequent exercise and a nutritious diet. Obesity increases the risk of hormonal alterations, which can lead to a variety of life-threatening disorders.

Limit Alcohol drinking – Excessive alcohol drinking is extremely harmful to the internal organs. Alcohol misuse promotes a variety of cancers, including pancreatic cancer.


After an oncologist has diagnosed pancreatic cancer after many diagnoses, treatment is administered based on the stage of cancer. Cancer becomes more difficult to cure as it progresses. Pancreatic cancer has four stages:

Stage 1 – The malignancy has only spread to the pancreas. There are no symptoms at this time; however, if the cancer is identified at this stage, it is very treatable.

Stage 2 – Pancreatic cancer has spread to neighboring lymph nodes at this point. At this point, the infection has not penetrated the blood vessels or tissues. The symptoms are also not visible at this stage and are infrequently detected, making treatment difficult. In certain rare circumstances, a few minor symptoms, such as-

Urine color changes

Rapid weight loss


Appetite suppression

Jaundice is characterized by the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.

Upper abdominal pain and edema

Once cancer has been detected, it is treated using a combination of the following therapeutic strategies to remove the tumor or prevent its spread to healthy parts of the body.




Drug treatments with specific targets

Patients with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer have a 30% survival rate, giving them an extra 5 years of life.

Stage 3 – Cancer has spread to adjacent blood arteries, lymph nodes, and tissues at this point. The infection has not spread to other organs. Because the symptoms are still subtle and difficult to detect at this stage, pancreatic cancer is known as “silent cancer.” At this stage, some of the symptoms are as follows:

Appetite Suppression

The weight reduction that occurs suddenly


Back pain that is constant and intense


Upper abdominal swelling, discomfort, and pain

Cancer becomes more difficult to treat at this stage. When the disease is discovered at this time, treatment can prevent it from spreading to healthy parts of the body. At this point, the therapy choices are as follows:

Whipple surgery (removal of the affected portion of the pancreas)

Anti-cancer medications

Radiation treatment

Despite aggressive treatment, the cancer is more likely to recur. Only 3 to 12% of patients get a five-year life extension. This is due to the rapid development of cells, which spreads beyond the contaminated area to smaller, undetectable locations even throughout the eradication process.

Stage 4 – This is the final and most severe stage of pancreatic cancer. At this stage, the cancer is extremely serious, and treatment becomes extremely difficult. At this point, cancer has spread to neighboring organs and is steadily progressing to the bones and brain. At this point, some of the obvious signs are as follows:

Backache that is excruciating


The weight reduction that occurs suddenly

Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

Appetite loss


Upper abdominal pain and edema

Pancreatic cancer cannot be cured at this stage. Unfortunately, the majority of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed when there is no cure. Doctors try to alleviate discomfort and agony. There are few medicines available to halt the proliferation of cancer cells, which are –


Bypass surgery for the stomach

Bile duct bypass surgery

Stent for the bile duct

Treatments for palliative pain

At this moment, the five-year prolonged survival rate is limited to about 3%.


As previously stated, pancreatic cancer is one of the worst cancers since it is extremely difficult to cure. Cancer can be cured to some extent, with a five-year life extension when detected early. Later on, the choices become more intricate, resulting in fewer prospects of survival. Life after surgery and pancreatic cancer therapy is difficult since it is never normal. Certain lifestyle adjustments must be performed in order to increase the chances of survival. Here are a few pointers to help you get back on track:

Collaboration on pain management entails working closely with the oncologist to control postoperative pain. Doctors will prescribe strong pain relievers at first and gradually reduce the dosage to control the pain. Certain pain relievers produce significant chest burn and acidity. Seek the advice of a professional for an option.

Plan lighter meals – Whipple surgery removes the infected portion of many internal organs associated to the pancreas. This creates pain during eating. It is better to consume little portions frequently throughout the day rather than three major meals. The stomach will be less pressurized as a result, and digestion will be easier.

Blood sugar levels should be monitored on a regular basis after Whipple surgery since problems may deteriorate. During the surgery, surgeons remove a portion of the pancreas, the organ responsible for insulin manufacturing. This causes an imbalance in blood sugar levels, and some individuals develop diabetes for the first time as a result of the Whipple procedure.

Keep an eye out for cramps, gas, and bloating – Cramping, gas, and bloating are common due to a lack of pancreatic enzymes. This issue affects almost half of all Whipple patients. To aid digestion, people with this illness usually need to take pancreatic enzyme supplements orally. Most pancreatic cancer patients also take prescription antacids and iron-fortified multivitamins to restore lost nutrients.

1 Is it possible to prevent pancreatic cancer?

Unfortunately, most pancreatic cancer cannot be avoided, but you can lower your risk by keeping a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and reducing your alcohol use. Other risk factors include chronic pancreatitis and a family history of the disease. Precancerous lesions can occasionally be found and, if treated early, can prevent pancreatic cancer from forming.

2 Is pancreatic cancer a hereditary disease?

Pancreatic cancer can be hereditary, however, the vast majority of cases are not. Many genes are involved in the progression of pancreatic cancer. KRAS, P53, P16, and SMAD4 are the four primary drivers. If you have a family history of pancreatic cancer, you should seek genetic counseling and screening. Having two or more first-degree relatives with pancreatic cancer is considered familial pancreatic cancer.

3 What are the possibilities that a pancreatic cyst may develop into cancer?

Pancreatic cysts are quite frequent, and the vast majority of them are not malignant. However, some may be malignant, while others may be precancerous. There are numerous forms of pancreatic cysts, ranging from benign to malignant, that are diagnosed after a series of tests.

4 Is it possible for me to survive without a pancreas?

Yes, you can live without a pancreas, but you will be diabetic and will need to take insulin on a daily basis. You will also need to take enzyme supplements to aid digestion.

5 What is the treatment for pancreatic cancer?

A: The therapy of pancreatic cancer is determined by various factors, including the disease’s stage (how far it has progressed). The following are the primary therapeutic options:

B: Surgery

C: Radiation

D: Chemotherapy

6 Surgery for pancreatic cancer

Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may propose Whipple surgery, which entails removing the head of the pancreas, as well as parts of the small intestine, gallbladder, bile duct, and, in some cases, a bit of the stomach. Distal pancreatectomy (removal of the pancreas’s “tail” as well as the spleen) and complete pancreatectomy (removal of the entire pancreas and spleen) are two other types of pancreatic cancer surgery. If cancer has progressed too far to be removed, your doctor may recommend palliative care, which does not cure the disease but does decrease symptoms.

7 Pancreatic cancer chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, which uses medications to kill malignant cells, can also be used to treat pancreatic cancer. Chemotherapy can be administered before and after surgery, or when surgery is not an option. It is sometimes used with radiation, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Similarly, radiation may be used before and after surgery, with or without chemotherapy, or to alleviate symptoms in the advanced stages of the disease. Our medical staff can offer the best treatment for you.

9 What are the symptoms and indicators of pancreatic cancer?

During the early stages of pancreatic cancer, there are no signs or symptoms. However, by the time you notice symptoms, the tumors have become fairly large and malignancy has infiltrated the tissues around the pancreas. It’s important to note that if you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t always mean you have pancreatic cancer; it could be caused by another ailment, but it’s always better to consult a doctor for confirmation.
These are some of the warning signals to look for:

Jaundice or signs of jaundice
Consistent stomach or backache
Rapid weight loss and loss of appetite
Vomiting and nausea
Inflammation of the liver or gallbladder
Clots in the blood
10 Is there a way to cure pancreatic cancer?

There is no ultimate cure for cancer, although surgery is a treatment option. However, by the time cancer is identified, it has advanced to the point where surgery is not recommended. If cancer has spread to nearby tissues and important organs, surgical excision of tumors is not advised. Pancreatic cancer treatment is determined by a variety of criteria, including your age, overall health, and personal preferences. Pancreatic cancer is extremely tough to treat, at least surgically.

11 How long can chemotherapy keep you alive?

Most malignancies, if palliative chemotherapy is given, have an extended lifespan of three to twelve months. The greater your response to treatment, the longer you should survive. The Median Duration of Response indicates how long it will take for cancer to respond to normal chemo treatments before it begins to develop again.

12 Is stage 1 pancreatic cancer curable?

If your cancer is found in its early stages, it can be treated surgically. Tumor removal surgery can improve your chances of a cure. However, detecting pancreatic cancer in its early stages is extremely challenging. There’s a reason this cancer is known as the silent killer: it spreads undetected. It is too late for surgery by the time the patient is diagnosed or symptoms appear. People don’t take it seriously because the early warning signals mirror other ailments.

12 How much sleep does a chemo patient need?

A patient undergoing chemotherapy will need seven to nine hours of sleep. A patient will feel tired throughout chemo treatment, at least more than usual, because the body wants to rebuild itself. However, sometimes a patient is unable to sleep due to chemo treatment side effects. If the patient is having difficulty falling asleep, try the following suggestions:

Maintaining a routine

Avoiding excessive sleep

Keeping the sleeping area cool and quiet

Eat your final meal two hours before going to bed.

After lunch, avoid all coffee.

Drink no alcohol before going to bed.

13 Is it possible for stage 4 pancreatic cancer to go undiagnosed?

Every cancer case is unique, though cancer is typically detected in stages 2 or 3. Stage 4 cancer is advanced, and it is difficult to go undiagnosed. Some people may exhibit symptoms in stage 2, while others may exhibit symptoms in stage 4. It is quite rare for patients to reach stage 4 with minor or no cancer symptoms.





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