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Pancreatic cancer symptoms and diagnosis
Pancreatic cancer symptoms and diagnosis

Pancreatic cancer can be safely called a fatal disease. For modern oncology, it represents a still unresolved problem. A more favorable prognosis if the disease is detected at an early stage, and in 87-92% of cases it is diagnosed already with the formation of metastases.

The prevalence of the disease is 9-12 cases per 100,000 people. The disease is more common in adult men aged 40-75 years living in developed countries of Europe and North America.

Regardless of the histological type and location of the tumor, most cases of neoplasms are diagnosed when they reach a size of up to 5 cm. The structure of the organ is disturbed, metastases have grown regionally and to distant organs.

Pancreatic cancer types:

  • ductal adenocarcinoma - occurs most often, 75% - 90%;
  • giant cell adenocarcinoma - 6%;
  • glandular squamous cell carcinoma - 3-4%;
  • mucinous adenocarcinoma - 1-3%.

There are other, more rare types of the disease: Rare types of cancerous tumors of pancreatic tissues: gastronome, insuloma, glucaganoma. In 90% of cases, the head of the organ is affected. Pancreatic cancer is detected more often by accident, operations and treatment with chemotherapy are difficult for patients to tolerate, and the patients' chances of survival are minimal.

After surgery, only about 3-5% of patients live longer than 5 years, in most cases the survival time is from 6 to 13 months. Only lung cancer has such sad statistics. Currently, the number of cases of damage to the pancreas has increased.

What signs of pancreatic cancer should make a patient see a doctor?

Pancreatic cancer symptoms

The earlier you see a doctor, the higher the chances of getting into those 5% of patients who have lived for 5 or more years after treatment. To detect the first signs of degeneration of organ tissue, you need to analyze the changes that occur in the body.

The earliest sign of the disease, which cannot be called a symptom, is swelling in the epigastric region (in the projection of the stomach).

Other symptoms:

  • unexplained general weakness;
  • unreasonable weight loss;
  • frequent nausea, intermittent vomiting, indigestion;
  • in women, the menstrual cycle is disturbed, hot flashes are sharply expressed, libido decreases.

In 65% of cases, the only sign of the disease is yellowness of the sclera and skin - it occurs at the earliest stage, while the tumor has not yet grown in the organ itself. However, such a manifestation indicates a severe form of the disease.

The symptoms of pancreatic involvement depend on the stage of the disease.

Stage 1 can be classified into 3 grades:

  • zero - the tumor spreads within the basement membrane, does not manifest itself in any way and does not metastasize;
  • stage 1a - the neoplasm grows through the basement membrane, but until it metastasizes, its size does not exceed 2 cm;
  • stage 1b - the tumor has already increased in size, but there are no metastases yet.

Stage 2 - the tumor has already gone beyond the organ:

  • 2A - the duodenum, fiber, ligaments, mesenteric vessels are affected, but metastases have not yet appeared;
  • 2B - metastases appear that affect extraorgan lymph nodes.

Stage 3 - all regional lymph nodes are affected, metastases are found along the course of large blood vessels - retroperitoneal, upper portal, hepatic and mesenteric veins and arteries.

Stage 4 - metastases have already struck distant organs and there is no longer any chance of a cure.

Also, symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • severe pain in the epigastrium and in the left hypochondrium, which increases with the progression of the disease;
  • dry mouth, thirst, polyuria - signs of diabetes mellitus;
  • the development of thrombophlebitis of the lower extremities in the absence of varicose veins.

An increase in the size of the abdomen cannot be called the first sign of a disease, but it always occurs during an illness. Abdominal enlargement causes carcinomatosis and ascites in the abdominal cavity.

Pancreatic Cancer Causes

Modern medicine has not yet identified the exact cause that gives impetus to the degeneration of pancreatic cells.

One of the factors that most often stimulates the development of the disease is chronic pancreatitis. If the cells of the organ are constantly inflamed, the possibility of mutation increases.

Also, the causes of cancer of the glandular organ include:

  • hereditary predisposition;
  • peptic ulcer, which has a negative effect on the digestive organs as a whole, especially if it was caused by Helicobacter pylori, a pathogenic bacterium;
  • smoking;
  • frequent alcohol consumption;
  • the nature of the diet - the predominance of meat products in the diet;
  • carcinogens that can be ingested with food and water, respiratory tract;
  • cirrhosis of the liver;
  • chronic allergic diseases such as eczema or atopic dermatitis;
  • diseases of the oral cavity - stomatitis, periodontitis, periodontal disease.

Racial is also considered to be an aggravating factor - in African Americans, the disease is more common, and the age is over 60 years. The disease can develop with the treatment of other types of cancer - with damage to other organs.

Pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment

In the early stages of the disease - while the size of the tumor is up to 2 cm - it is very difficult to detect it.

Diagnostic methods include:

  • Ultrasound - not only all organs located in the abdominal cavity are examined, but also in the retroperitoneal space. Before the ultrasound examination, all foods that cause increased gas formation should be excluded from the diet within 3 days - sweets, pastries, bananas, grapes, carbonated drinks, legumes.
  • Tomography - CT and MRI. Preference should be given to MRI, since soft tissue organs are visualized. This examination also allows you to identify metastases in the regional lymph nodes.
  • ERCP - endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. This method does not confirm the oncological diagnosis of the pancreas, but it can accurately identify the presence of stones in the bile ducts and the cause of obstructive jaundice.
  • A biopsy is the most reliable way to detect a disease, but it is prescribed in extreme cases, when other examinations confirm the diagnosis by 80%. It is preferable to conduct an examination during laparoscopic surgery.

Some doctors give a referral for blood tests for tumor markers - CEA and CA 19-9. A positive test is not 100% confirmation of the diagnosis - it only reveals the presence of specific antigens and protein molecules in the blood.

An integrated approach is required for the treatment of cancer:

  • operations are carried out when the disease is detected at 1-2, and sometimes at 3 stages, if the patient is able to undergo surgery;
  • chemotherapy - combined with surgical treatment;
  • radiation therapy - rarely used.

Symptomatic treatment is carried out to restore intestinal permeability, pain relief, detoxification of the patient's body. At this stage, the tumor is not manipulated.

Diet recommendations are given by your doctor.

Prevention of pancreatic cancer

One should think about the prevention of pancreatic cancer even when symptoms of chronic pancreatitis appear.

The following measures should be taken:

  • quit smoking;
  • reduce the amount of sweets in the diet, consume non-starchy vegetables and fruits;
  • periodically arrange fasting days;
  • include red berries and fruits in the diet;
  • eat sea fish and dairy products more often;
  • drink a vitamin complex with B vitamins and carotenoids annually.

Ate to maintain chronic pancreatitis in a state of remission and prevent exacerbations, the risk of malignant tissue of the pancreas is reduced by 9-11 times.

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