December 17, 2022
Pancreatic cancer is highly lethal. In our country, every year 1,600 new cases are diagnosed and more than 1,500 people die from this disease, according to reports from the Global Cancer Observatory (Globocan).
Oncologist Pedro Cáceres, from Clinica Ricardo Palma, explains that this condition attacks the tissues of the pancreas and generates changes or mutations in the DNA of its cells. They grow uncontrollably and favor the formation of tumors.
“When the patient does not receive treatment, cancer cells can spread to organs and blood vessels near or far from the body,” says the doctor after indicating that this disease is related to hereditary disorders in 1 out of 4 patients.
According to guidelines published by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, anyone diagnosed with this disease must receive genetic counseling, in order to carry out a series of studies. If the results show any mutation, this information is key for the treatment of the patient and preventive control of the family.
They vary depending on the location of the cancer. Pain is the most common sign, even with tumors smaller than 2cm. 60% of the time the neoplasm is located in the head of the pancreas and causes early discomfort such as jaundice (yellow skin).
Hepatomegaly (liver enlargement) occurs in 39% of cases, a mass in the right upper quadrant in 15% of patients, cachexia or weight loss in 13%, epigastric mass in 9% and or ascites or fluid in the abdomen in abdomen by 5%.
The symptoms of pancreatic tail cancer are at a later stage.
HOW TO PREVENT IT
Leading a healthy lifestyle is essential to avoid the development of multiple diseases. Avoiding smoking, exercising regularly, having a balanced diet, and maintaining an adequate weight reduce the risk of suffering from this cancer.
Among its main risk factors are: age, tobacco and alcohol consumption, chronic pancreatitis, recent onset diabetes, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Here lies the importance of carrying out a preventive medical control every year.
Unlike other pathologies, pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect early on because it is found in a deep region of the body. As a result, tumors in their early stages cannot be seen or felt during routine physical exams. Almost always the patient presents discomfort when the disease has advanced a lot.
Abnormal routine laboratory tests are not specific for this cancer, some of the changes that may occur include elevated bilirubin or elevated alkaline phosphatase levels or the presence of mild or moderate anemia. Many times, the finding is incidental by imaging studies such as tomography, abdominal ultrasound, among others.
Pancreatic cancer is a complex disease. However, it can be treated. The cure rates are related to the timely diagnosis, consult your doctor, do not minimize the symptoms. Many of the long-standing abdominal pains could be indicative of this pathology. Seek specialist care to discuss the best treatment available to you.
Dr. Pedro Cáceres
Oncologist at Clinica Ricardo Palma