B. Background Info
Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies horizontally behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars. Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis, even when diagnosed early. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it's a leading cause of cancer death. Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and surgical removal isn't possible. C. Signs and Symptoms
Cancer of the pancreas is sometimes called a “silent” disease because symptoms are not usually present in early stages. Many patients have advanced disease by the time it becomes noticeable to the patient and doctors. If symptoms are present, they are often vague. Patients may experience different symptoms depending on the location, type and stage of the tumor. Symptoms that commonly lead to diagnosis include: jaundice, abdominal and/or back pain, diabetes, unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite. A person with advanced pancreatic cancer may also experience ascites and blood clots. Symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, digestive difficulties and depression may occur at any time. D. Tests
If your doctor suspects pancreatic cancer, you may have one or more of the following tests to diagnose the cancer: Imaging tests to create pictures of your internal organs. Imaging tests help your doctor visualize your internal organs, including your pancreas. Imaging tests used to diagnose pancreatic cancer include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Using a scope to inject dye into the pancreatic ducts. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) uses a dye to highlight the bile ducts in your pancreas. During ERCP, an endoscope is passed down...
Mayo clinic staff. (April 10, 2010). Pancreatic Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pancreatic-cancer/DS00357.
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. (2013). Learn About Pancreatic Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.pancan.org/section_facing_pancreatic_cancer/learn_about_pan_cancer/index.php
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