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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases Arrow to CancerCancer Arrow to Cancer of the PancreasPancreatic Cancer

illustration showing major parts of the pancreasCancer of the pancreas is one of the most common cancers in the U.S. and one of the most difficult to treat.

However, research is ongoing. Newer therapies currently under study hold promise of stopping cancer cells in their tracks.

Attacking enzymes and other growth factors that pancreatic tumors need to thrive is one way researchers are discovering how to battle the disease.

Pancreatic cancer symptoms and diagnosis

Pancreatic cancer forms when cancerous cells begin to grow in the pancreas - the organ that normally secretes enzymes that aid in digestion and helps regulate metabolism.

Symptoms commonly appear as abdominal pain as the tumor grows and presses against surrounding organs. Sudden weight loss, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) may also occur as the tumor blocks the normal flow of bile from the liver.

Typically, pancreatic cancer spreads or metastasizes quickly. For this reason, symptoms may not appear until the disease is in advanced stages when surgery is no longer an option.

Pancreatic cancer treatment

If the tumor is caught early and is deemed operable, there are several types of surgery available to pancreatic cancer patients.

famous celebrities who battled pancreatic cancer
Actor Patrick Swayze and Apple
founder Steve Jobs are two famous
celebrities who battled the disease.

The most common of these is the Whipple operation, in which part of the pancreas is removed along with surrounding organs such as the gallbladder and duodenum, or sometimes part of the stomach.

Distal pancreatectomy is a procedure in which only the tail of the pancreas is removed, primarily used to treat islet cancer cells. Total pancreatectomy, or complete removal of the pancreas, is used much less often since the risks of the procedure are often seen as far outweighing any benefit.

While the medical community continues to make strides in improved treatment, there are known risk factors that most people can avoid to help lower their chances of developing the disease. These include smoking, the greatest risk known for pancreatic cancer. Other factors include diabetes, excess weight or obesity, or a diet high in fat.

Elsewhere on the Web, learn more about what you can do to lower your risk along with additional facts & information on treatment, surgeries & other therapies, available clinical trials, patient support, plus the latest results from research studies in the battle against pancreatic cancer ...

More about pancreatic cancer around the Web:

Pancreatica - Confronting Pancreatic Cancer - Get online support for pancreatic cancer patients including the latest news in pancreatic cancer research & clinical trials, detailed FAQ covering cancer stages, symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, the Whipple procedure, support and related issues, plus survivor stories & suggested reading.

Pancreatic Cancer Overview - The American Cancer Society explains the causes & symptoms, types of tumors associated with the disease, overview of available treatments, key statistics, questions to ask your doctor, and facts on new therapies under study, with related resources.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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