As per the health surveys, pancreatic cancer is 4th leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. It is one of the most common types of cancer. In India, the incidence of the disease is lower than that of the western countries. However, the survival of patients of all stages is also lower.
Recently, a study by the Nuffield Department of Primary Health Care Sciences found two early symptoms of pancreatic cancer. It is increased thirst and dark yellow urine. These symptoms can appear up to a year before diagnosis. The report mentioned that these symptoms may not be an indicator of pancreatic cancer but patients diagnosed with the disease have a higher chance of experiencing these symptoms.
Dr. Wiqi Liao from the Nuffield Department of Primary Health Care Sciences stated that these symptoms can help doctors quickly refer patients for urgent tests. This statement focuses on early detection of pancreatic cancer and would be helpful for the patient.
In the 18th century, Italian scientist Giovanni Battista Morgagni (the historic father of modern-day anatomical pathology) claimed to have traced several cases of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is responsible for 6% of cancer deaths each year globally. Globally this is the 11th most common cancer in women and the 12th most common in men.
Pancreatic cancer and other less common exocrine cancers have a poor prognosis due to their identification at a later stage, which leads to the spread of cancerous cells to other parts of the body. Several research studies are being conducted by scientists all over the globe to better understand the early symptoms of the disease.
Symptoms and treatment of pancreatic cancer
As per a report from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the initial symptoms of pancreatic cancer are; weight loss, nausea, indigestion, abdominal pain, and dyspepsia. The report says more than 60% of these cancers show symptoms that are associated with the head of the pancreas such as; pale stools, jaundice, and itching.
The report added; diabetes is also a symptom associated with pancreatic cancer. This is due to the cancerous growth in the pancreas that makes the body resistant to insulin. According to the report, some patients may show symptoms of new-onset diabetes such as; depression and thrombophlebitis. The report also says; a person with longstanding diabetes may appear symptoms like sudden unexplained weight loss or loss of blood sugar control.
While early symptoms of pancreatic cancer are difficult to identify, a key assessment made after the diagnosis is whether surgical removal of the tumor is possible or not because this is the only cure for this type of cancer. This surgical treatment also depends on how much the cancer has spread. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are likely to be offered to most people.
In the case of surgical treatment, several factors are considered before the surgery. For example, this depends on the precise extent of local anatomical adjacency to, or involvement of, the blood vessels. Also, surgical expertise and postoperative recovery are considered. The Whipple procedure is the most common curative surgical treatment for cancer involving the head of the pancreas.