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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 organ in the abdomen (belly) that produces digestive juices (exocrine pancreatic cells), insulin and other hormones (endocrine pancreatic cells) to control blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer usually starts in the exocrine cells.

  • The causes of pancreatic cancer are not known, 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
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Yellowish skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • You are likely to have surgery to remove the tumour or ease the symptoms. Other treatments include:

    • Chemotherapy to improve the radiation therapy's effectiveness, or if surgery and radiation therapy cannot be given
    • Radiation therapy (high-energy x-rays) after surgery or if surgery is not possible – this can prevent the cancer from returning and may reduce the pain and jaundice
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