The pancreas is located in the upper middle region of the abdomen. It is divided into three regions: the head, body, and tail. The head of the pancreas is attached to the small intestine, where the pancreas secretes enzymes to help digest fat and protein. The pancreas also produces insulin to control blood sugar levels. A pancreatic tumour develops when the pancreatic cells become abnormal and divide uncontrollably. The tumour is termed cancerous if it can spread to other parts of the body.
In Australia, pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cancer-causing death. Because symptoms are not always obvious, it is difficult to detect problems in early stages. Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery is not considered when the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas. However, it remains a viable option when the affected area is well contained within the pancreas or part of the pancreas.
What are the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer?
The signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Problems with digestion
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
Which test(s) and/or procedure(s) may be requested to determine if I have pancreatic cancer?
Tests or procedures that can help detect pancreatic cancer include blood tests, CT scan, MRI scan, Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatogram(ERCP), Endoscopic ultrasound(EUS) with fine needle aspiration.
How is this condition surgically treated?
Pancreatic Surgery for pancreatic cancer include the Pancreaticoduodenectomy(also called Whipple procedure), a distal pancreatectomy, or a total pancreatectomy.
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If you would like to find out more about any of the information above, or would like to book an appointment for a discussion,
please give the Norwest GI team a call today on 02 9899 7322 or complete our contact form and one of our friendly staff will be in touch shortly.