Pancreas Cancer – Understanding The Treatments Available!

Pancreas Cancer – Understanding The Treatments Available!


By Dr. Aasim Anees Hussain, General Surgery

Pancreas cancer, or pancreatic cancer, is a particularly fast-spreading cancer. The fact that it is difficult to diagnose in the early stages when it is still treatable, combined with this fact, makes it more dangerous.

The symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include-

• Depression
• Diabetes accompanied by weight loss
• Abdominal pain and jaundice

People with a family history of pancreatic ailments, pancreatic cancer in general, should visit the doctor regularly for screening against the disease and swift detection of any risky growth formed.

Treatment of pancreatic cancer

As this disease is particularly life-threatening, the treatment needed for it is swift and intensive. When cancer has spread too far in the body for chemotherapy or radiation therapy to comfortably handle it, surgery is the only way out.

Following are the surgical techniques to comfortably cope with pancreas cancer-

• Diagnostic surgery - Diagnostic surgery for pancreas cancer is done to determine the amount of cancer that has already spread through your body. If the extent of damage is still manageable, surgery is done to completely remove cancer from your body. If the damage is so severe it cannot be cured, surgery is done to arrest the damage to help the patient lead as normal a life as possible.

The surgical procedure used for diagnosing is a laparoscopy. In this procedure, small cuts are made on the surface of the abdominal region and small surgical devices with cameras are inserted inside to check the extent of spread of cancer. The conditions and the state of damage of the organs are also checked.

• Curative surgery - This surgery is done only in a few cases where it is possible to completely cure cancer. It is rare because pancreas cancer is generally detected when it is too late to completely cure it. The pros and cons have to be carefully considered before this surgery, as the procedure involves a lot of risk including heavy complication, recovery time, along with delaying secondary treatment in that duration. Sometimes it so happens that either cancer has begun engulfing other organs, or cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body. In such cases, the mode of surgery is switched to palliative.

• Palliative surgery - This is done to provide symptomatic relief to the patient if complete curative surgery is not possible. Heavy surgery is not recommended in these cases, as the recuperating body of the patient may not be able to heal from it. The two common ways this surgery is performed is through stent usage and bypass surgery. The most common symptom this surgery treats is jaundice, caused by bile imbalance in the body as a result of pancreas cancer.

Pancreas cancer is an exceptionally fatal sort of cancer that is difficult to detect in treatable stages as it is fast spreading. Hence, numerous strategies have been devised to cope with it. Surgery is one such method, which either completely cures or treats the symptoms of the disease.