Pancreatic cancer starts from the cells and tissues of the pancreas – a crucial organ that releases enzymes for digestion. It is also responsible for the production of insulin, the crucial hormone that regulates blood sugar in humans.
The pancreas can be affected by both non-cancerous as well as cancerous tumors. The most common type of pancreatic cancer is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, which starts in the cells that line the ducts responsible for the transport of enzymes from the pancreas to the outside.
Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage – when it has spread to other nearby organs and therefore, the treatment is challenging in such situations. The diagnosis mostly takes place when certain symptoms are observed.
The methodology for pancreatic cancer treatment depends on what has been decided for the patient as per the test results.
The following three types of treatment may be conducted, independently or in a combination with one another.
Surgery: There are different types of surgeries that are possible in the case of pancreatic cancer, depending on the clinical status of the patient and the location of cancer. Surgery may be performed to remove the pancreatic head, pancreatic body and tail, or the entire pancreas. Sometimes, surgery is performed to remove the nearby blood vessels to which the tumor might have spread.
Chemotherapy: This is a systemic treatment in which a drug is administered weekly every 7 to 21 days, depending on which protocol has been advised. This form of treatment can be conducted before or after the surgery or sometimes both. Usually, patients are required to undergo 6 to 8 cycles of chemotherapy.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. Sometimes, radiation therapy is conducted before the surgery to reduce the size of the tumor. Other times, it can be advised in combination with chemotherapy for cases where surgery is not possible.
Recovery of the patient depends on the type, stage, and grade of cancer. Also, it depends on which treatment is being applied to the patient.
Patients often need supportive care at home during the treatment and even after it has been concluded. The success of the treatment also depends on when cancer has been diagnosed.
Usually, it may take patients a few weeks to months to recover fully once the treatment has been concluded.
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