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Pancreatic Cancer

  • What is Pancreatic Cancer?

    Pancreatic cancer is an abnormal growth of tissue in the pancreas. The pancreas is an abdominal organ that produces digestive juices in the exocrine pancreatic cells, and insulin and other hormones in the endocrine pancreatic cells to control blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer usually starts in the exocrine cells.

  • The causes of pancreatic cancer are unclear but you may be at risk if you:

    • Are overweight
    • Have a close relative with pancreatic cancer
    • Have diabetes
    • Have pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas)
    • Smoke tobacco
  • The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are usually not obvious but may include:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Back pain
    • Indigestion, bloating and oily stool
    • Pain in the middle or upper part of the abdomen (belly)
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Jaundice (yellowish skin or whites of the eye)
  • You are likely to undergo surgery to remove the tumour or ease the symptoms. Other treatments include:

    • Radiation therapy (high-energy x-ray) after surgery or if surgery is not possible. This prevents the cancer from returning and may reduce pain and jaundice
    • Chemotherapy to improve the effectiveness of radiation therapy or if surgery and radiation therapy cannot be given
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