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Pancreatic Cancer: Advanced Care in MA

Pancreatic cancer is rare – it only represents about 3% of all cancers. This aggressive disease often does not show any symptoms until it is in its later stages. However, pancreatic cancer can be treated if diagnosed properly and treated with proper care. 

If you think you may have pancreatic cancer or have already been diagnosed, you can find the support and resources you need at Southcoast Health.

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Cancer is defined by tumors that become malignant. Pancreatic cancer, therefore, occurs when malignant tumors form in your pancreas. This organ is responsible for producing certain hormones and aiding in digestion. There are two classifications of pancreatic cancer based on where tumors form in your pancreas:

Exocrine Cancer – malignant tumors located in the glands that make digestive enzymes and release them into the intestines. Exocrine cancer is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. There are different types of exocrine cancer, but pancreatic adenocarcinoma accounts for 95% of all cases.

Endocrine Cancer – affects pancreatic islets cells, which make hormones such as insulin and glucagon. Endocrine tumors are a rare form of pancreatic cancer, as they only make up less than 4% of pancreatic cancer diagnoses.

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer

Unfortunately, experts still don’t fully understand the causes behind pancreatic cancer. However, doctors have identified various risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing this disease:

  • African American race
  • Age – most pancreatic cancer diagnoses happen in people over the age of 60
  • Family history
  • Genetics – 10% pancreatic cancers are related to mutations in genes such as BRCA2, p16/CDKN2A and PRSS1
  • History of pancreatic-related conditions, including diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, and liver cirrhosis
  • Male sex – men are 30% more likely than women to develop pancreatic cancer
  • Tobacco use – 30% of pancreatic cancers are linked to smoking
  • Obesity – excess weight makes pancreatic cancer 20% more likely

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Pancreatic cancer is hard to find and diagnose in its early stages, as the pancreas is located deep in your abdomen, behind the stomach. This makes it almost impossible to feel tumors as they develop and grow. It only begins to show external symptoms late in its stages.

When symptoms of pancreatic cancer do develop, they may include:

  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Blood clots
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Digestive problems
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Weight loss and lack of appetite

Screenings & Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer at Southcoast Health

Because of pancreatic cancer’s rarity and aggressiveness, treatment has to be executed carefully in order to control the cancer and ease symptoms. Southcoast Health offers several treatment options for pancreatic cancer, including:

Based on your diagnosis, your pancreatic cancer specialist will work on a personalized treatment plan for you. At Southcoast Health, your care and comfort are our top priority. For more information on our reliable cancer screenings, along with our other treatment services, contact us at one of our locations in Fall River and Fairhaven, MA.