Following specialists treat Pancreatic Cancer. Help us improve our data based on your experience.
Specialty scores for Pancreatic Cancer
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Pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant cells start to develop in the tissue of the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ in the body which is responsible for the production of insulin, used to control glucose levels in the blood stream, and digestive enzymes which are released into the small intestine. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth highest cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States.
Cancer of the pancreas is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the Western world. The commonest and most aggressive form is adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, which accounts for 85% of cases. Typically late in producing characteristic signs and symptoms, it is all too often diagnosed when it has spread beyond the pancreas. Unfortunately, when it has reached this stage, it is considered to be incurable. The focus of treatment then shifts on to palliative care and possible life extension using radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. Even with such therapy, the prognosis is still poor, with the median survival time after diagnosis being a miserable 3-6 months. The standard first-line chemotherapeutic agent is gemcitabine, given as single therapy. The problem with this drug is that, although it usually gives a good initial response, pancreatic cancer cells often become resistant to the drug and other, second line agents, often in combination, would then have to be used. One such agent is fluorouracil, given together with folinic acid (folinic acid is not a chemotherapeutic agent in itself but enhances the cancer-fighting actions of fluorouracil). Other drug combinations are also used as second-line agents, but all appear to offer more or less the same outcome.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells which can arise from almost any tissue in the body. As well as growing in the place where they originate, many cancer cells also develop the ability to move around the body – or metastasise. Cancer can make people unwell in a huge number of ways; the growing mass can block structures (such as blood vessels or airways), the cancer tissue can consume the natural organ and prevent it from working, the metastases (new masses of cancer which grow around the body) can cause pain and blockages wherever they develop. In addition the growing tissue uses up a huge amount of energy, making the person feel very tired and lose huge amounts of weight as the cancer is ‘stealing’ all the person’s energy.