Many people dont know what is pancreatic cancer even though each and every year more than thirty thousand people in the United States are diagnosed with this disease. Europe has almost double the amount of diagnoses per year. The pancreas is a single organ that is located directly behind the stomach towards the rear of the abdomen. Cancer is a broad category for the numerous different diseases that are primarily characterized by a cell growth that is excessive and extremely out of control. The pancreas is considered to be cancerous as soon as this out of control cell growth is seen in the pancreas. The excessive cell growth caused by the cancer forms the cells inside the pancreas into tissue masses or lumps which are called tumors. Once formed, the tumors cause major problems in the pancreas, interfering with the main processes of the organ.
What Are the Different Classifications of Pancreatic Cancer?
There are generally two different classifications that pancreatic cancer can fall under: exocrine and endocrine. The exocrine pancreas makes up over ninety percent of the entire pancreas, so it is naturally the more common of pancreatic diagnoses. Exocrine pancreatic cancer is when the part of the pancreas that creates digestive secretions is affected by the cancer. There are several different subtypes of exocrine pancreatic cancer and over ninety percent of diagnoses stem from a type which is called pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Other less diagnosed types of exocrine pancreatic cancer include adenosquamous, squamous, giant, and acinar carcinoma. The areas of the pancreas which are not exocrine-related produce the hormones that get released into the bloodstream (otherwise known as the endocrine system). If cancer is found to be stemming from one of these cells it is named neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer (sometimes called islet cell pancreatic cancer). The different subtypes in the endocrine category of pancreatic cancer include; insulinomas, glucagonomas, somatostatinomas, gastrinomas, and VIPomas. In general, endocrine cancers occur less than exocrine pancreatic cancers.
What Are the Causes of Pancreatic Cancer?
The general cause of pancreatic cancer is when pancreatic cells uncontrollably grow, divide, and spread to form a tumor. Even though we know how pancreatic cancer occurs, there is still no research that has presented a definite reason as to why it occurs in some people and not others. Although no direct cause is known, there are many reasons that one might be more predisposed to developing pancreatic cancer. Smoking is known to almost double the chance of getting pancreatic cancer. People who have diabetes or pancreatitis also have an increased risk for developing the cancer, as well. In addition to the previous mentioned factors, age, gender, and family history are other factors that point to a cause of pancreatic cancer.
What Are the Available Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer?
Similar to the treatment of other forms of cancer, treating pancreatic cancer depends entirely on which stage the cancer has progressed. A major problem when diagnosing someone with pancreatic cancer is knowing which stage the cancer has progressed to without opting for major surgery. The treatment for most stages of pancreatic cancer include various surgical procedures and prescribed medications, such a chemotherapy treatments. There are also clinical trials which test new and alternative treatments for pancreatic cancer as well.