Cancer Of The Pancreas : Tests & Treatments


Pancreatic carcinoma is cancer of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is a malignant neoplasm originating from transformed cells arising in tissues forming the pancreas.

The most common type of pancreatic cancer, accounting for 95% of these tumors, is adenocarcinoma (tumors exhibiting glandular architecture on light microscopy) arising within the exocrine component of the pancreas. A minority arise from islet cells, and are classified as neuroendocrine tumors.

Tests & Diagnostics
CT scan of the abdomen
2. MRI of the abdomen
3. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
4. Endoscopic ultrasound
5. Pancreatic biopsy
This disease may also affect the results of the following tests:
(a) Liver function tests
(b) Serum bilirubin
(c ) Complete blood count (CBC)


Because pancreatic cancer is often advanced when it is first found, very few pancreatic tumors can be removed by surgery. The standard procedure is called a pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple procedure).
This surgery should be done at centers that perform the procedure frequently.
When the tumor has not spread out of the pancreas but cannot be removed,radiation therapy and chemotherapy together may be recommended.
When the tumor has spread (metastasized) to other organs such as the liver, chemotherapy alone is usually used. The standard chemotherapy drug is gemcitabine, but other drugs may be used. Gemcitabine can help approximately 25% of patients.
Patients whose tumor cannot be totally removed, but who have a blockage of the tubes that transport bile (biliary obstruction) must have that blockage relieved. There are generally two approaches to this:
1. Surgery
2. Placement of a tiny metal tube (biliary stent) during ERCP
Management of pain and other symptoms is an important part of treating advanced pancreatic cancer. Hospice can help with pain and symptom management, and provide psychological support for patients and their families during the illness.


Cancer-killing medicine, chemotherapy, has been found to increase survival in some patients. This medicine can be given intravenously or by mouth. Once in the bloodstream, chemotherapy agents reach other parts of the body. There are different chemotherapy agents and the side effects may be different as well. Side effects may include nausea, hair loss, low blood counts, and other effects.

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