Although pancreatic cancer is still a relatively uncommon type of cancer, it affects many people each year and is still somewhat difficult to properly diagnose in the early stages. Since it is a more rare type of cancer, it is important to understand what it is and how you can find the most effective pancreatic cancer treatment available to you.
Understanding your Pancreas
We often mostly hear about hearts, lungs and livers in medial news and during checkups, and not nearly as much about our pancreas. Essentially, the pancreas is an organ that rests right below the stomach and is attached to your gall bladder.
The main task of your pancreas is to help in the digestion process. When you eat, the pancreas releases enzymes that help to both absorb nutrients and break down carbohydrates and proteins as well. The other purpose for your pancreas is that it helps to produce hormones like insulin in the blood.
A healthy pancreas is one that has not been exposed to excessive amounts of high fat, liquor, processed meats, sodas or smoke and instead works in digesting a diet that is very high in fruit and vegetables.
What is Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is one of the more uncommon types of cancer that people are diagnosed with each year. In fact, it only accounts for approximately 3% of all cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.
Generally, medical professionals feel that pancreatic cancer is caused by a number of differing factors. One of course is family history. If you have had family members who have developed pancreatic cancer, then it is highly important that you want to have yourself screened as well.
Additionally, research has found that things like cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and having a high fat diet can also contribute to the onset of pancreatic cancer. Some medical professionals feel that early onset diabetes can be considered a warning sign for this disease.
Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
Once diagnosed, patients will have a few options of pancreatic cancer treatment available to them. Typically patients will follow or use a combination of three different options.
Surgery is available to patients who have tumors which can still be wholly removed and have not developed into a new stage of cancer. This treatment is typically performed on a smaller segment of pancreatic cancer patients as it can be difficult to diagnose the disease before the cancer has grown in some cases.
Patients are also able to accept treatment in the form of radiation or chemotherapy, either separately or in conjunction depending on the case. Radiation works to destroy cancerous cells via the use of very high energy beams into the body. Whereas chemotherapy uses medicine to kill cancer cells that is taken through an intravenous method or orally.
There have been and continue to be a variety of clinical trials in stages working to continue to find newer and better treatments for pancreatic cancer that can help patients better manage pain and quality of life issues.