Gastrointestinal cancer（Pancreatic cancer）
What is pancreatic cancer?
The pancreas is an organ that has two functions: an exocrine function that secretes digestive enzymes and an endocrine function that secretes hormones such as insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, and an exocrine function that produces digestive enzymes to help digest food. A type of cancer that develops in that tissue is pancreatic cancer, which mostly occurs in the pancreatic duct and is classified as adenocarcinoma. Pancreatic cancer tends to metastasize to the lymph nodes surrounding the pancreas and liver from an early stage, and peritoneal dissemination, in which cancer cells spread and disperse within the abdomen, may also occur. It is said to be one of the most difficult diseases to treat because diagnosis is often delayed.
The causes of pancreatic cancer are unknown, but smoking habits, genetic factors, and chronic pancreatitis are high risk factors.
Early symptoms of pancreatic cancer are generally difficult to manifest, but as the disease progresses, the following symptoms may occur: abdominal pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, indigestion, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), and fatty stools. Imaging tests (CT scan, MRI, ultrasound), blood tests, endoscopy, and tissue biopsy are also used to diagnose pancreatic cancer.
Example of proposed treatment for pancreatic cancer
Treatment of pancreatic cancer begins with a review of whether surgery is possible. Depending on the stage, a treatment plan is determined.
Surgically Operable (“can be removed in an operation “):
Surgery is considered when pancreatic cancer is detected at an early stage and has not spread to surrounding organs or blood vessels. Surgery is a treatment that attempts to remove the cancer. Surgery is one of the most effective methods in the early treatment of pancreatic cancer. Surgery alone or a combination of surgery and drug therapy may be used
Surgically Not Operable (“cannot be removed in an operation “):
Surgery is not possible if the pancreatic cancer has invaded large surrounding blood vessels or metastasized to another organ. In such cases, drug therapy and chemoradiation are considered.
Symptom management and supportive care:
If the cancer is advanced, management of symptoms such as pain and loss of appetite is important. Supportive care is provided to improve the patient’s quality of life. This includes pain control, nutritional therapy, and mental support
Surgery is the primary option for pancreatic cancer treatment and is chosen when the cancer is localized and operable.
2. Radiation Therapy:
Radiation therapy may be used before or after surgery to shrink or control cancer. Radiation uses high-energy X-rays or protons to target and destroy cancer cells.
Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to attack cancer cells and inhibit cancer growth. Gemcitabine is the most commonly used anticancer drug.
4. Targeted Therapy:
Targeted therapy attacks cancer cells using drugs that act on specific molecular targets. It is effective against some types of pancreatic cancer. Erlotinib, for example, is used.