When cancer develops in the tissues of the pancreas, it is known as pancreatic cancer. The location of the pancreas is behind the stomach and it is a vital endocrine organ. An important function of the pancreas is to produce the enzymes necessary for the digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It also produces glucagon and insulin, two important hormones. The responsibility of these hormones is to control glucose (sugar) metabolism. The cells in our body metabolize glucose with the help of insulin and when glucose levels are too low, glucagon helps to raise the levels. You should consult a cancer doctor in Kolkata for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer normally doesn’t show any symptoms in the early stage. When it reaches an advanced stage, it begins to show different symptoms. These include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the abdomen or lower back
  • Blood clots
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Depression

Risk factors

Your risk of pancreatic cancer may increase due to the following factors:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Pancreatitis
  • Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase the risk of cancer
  • Obesity
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Old age

Diagnosis

A cancer specialist in Kolkata often suggests the following tests:

  • Imaging tests: The doctor can view your internal organs including the pancreas with the help of these tests. Some tests are ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

  • Endoscopic ultrasound: This procedure involves the use of an ultrasound device for creating images of your pancreas from inside your abdomen. The doctor uses a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) to pass the device down your esophagus and into your stomach where it takes the images.

  • Biopsy: The doctor removes a small sample of tissue in this procedure for examining under the microscope. He/she may collect the tissue during an endoscopic ultrasound by passing special tools through the endoscope. The doctors may collect this tissue by inserting a needle through your skin and into your pancreas. The name of this procedure is a fine-needle aspiration.

  • Blood test: The pancreatic cancer cells often shed specific proteins known as tumour markers. The doctor tests your blood for these proteins.

The doctor tries to determine the stage of cancer after the presence of pancreatic cancer in your body is confirmed. Roman numerals ranging from 0 to IV are used to indicate the stages of pancreatic cancer.

Treatment

The stage and the location of cancer, your overall health and your personal preferences are the deciding factors during your treatment.

Surgery

The best oncologist in Kolkata recommends different surgical options based on the situation. The options include surgery for tumours in the pancreatic head, surgery for tumours in the pancreatic body and tail, surgery to remove the entire pancreas and surgery for tumours affecting nearby blood vessels.

Chemotherapy

The doctor kills cancer cells with drugs in this procedure. The drugs come in the form of injections or oral medicines.

Radiation therapy

The cancer cells are destroyed using high-energy beams of X-rays and protons in radiation therapy.