Pancreatic cancer is often hidden behind the harmless symptoms

Cancer of the pancreas is one of the most common tumors, but the most frequently fatal. It is an aggressive form of cancer. Doctors discover usually only when the disease is already far advanced.

  • There are clear symptoms are absent, this complicates the diagnosis.
  • Chemotherapy can extend life and quality of life increase.
  • Complementary therapies support the standard treatment.

Why a Tumor forms in the pancreas, there is no clear answer. Risk factors include Smoking, excess weight and possibly excessive alcohol consumption. The connection is not apart from tobacco consumption, but as clear as in other diseases, such as in the case of Smoking and lung cancer. Also genetic factors may favor the Emergence of pancreatic cancer, especially hereditary forms of chronic pancreatitis. One to two close relatives suffering from a carcinoma of the pancreas, makes a medical advice sense. Frequent cases of other tumor diseases, such as colon, breast or skin cancer forms in the family circle can also indicate an increased familial risk. A good first point of contact for people Affected by the house doctor is in the rule. A comprehensive genetic counseling is carried out, if necessary, in the next step, a suitable centre with a special clinic for family-related cancers.

The vast majority of patients with pancreatic cancer, a so – called Adeno-or ductal carcinoma (Tumor of the gland-forming tissue). Only a small share of around five per cent of all tumors of the pancreas are neuroendocrine tumors. These come from parts of the hormone-producing (endocrine) cells, the specific characteristics with nerve cells (neuro -). In addition, there are other, very rare forms of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer: Initially no, or only non-specific complaints

Unlike colorectal cancer, there are no universally applicable methods for early detection. Doctors discover a malignant Tumor, therefore, often late. In the early stages of the disease, pancreatic cancer causes no or only nonspecific symptoms such as loss of appetite or feeling of pressure in upper abdomen, which can also have other causes. Also persistent back pain, by the tension, or poor posture to explain, can be a note. Symptoms such as severe pain, weight loss, or jaundice usually occur until the disease is quite advanced. Especially in the case of older patients there is a connection between pancreatic cancer and Diabetes. The sugar disease is not a direct precursor of pancreatic cancer, but a newly-diagnosed Diabetes can precede cancer diagnosis. Who is in a Diabetes-Neudiagnose older than 60 years and not overweight, you should ask his doctor after a study of the pancreas.

Surgical removal considered to be the safest method

In the case of suspected pancreatic cancer, the doctor performs a physical examination with an ultrasound of the abdomen. It can be evaluated in addition to the not always easy to see the pancreas, the liver for possible metastases. The doctor asks, also, for discomfort, changes in the physical condition and risk factors. For further investigations such as a computed tomography, and endoscopic examination of the family doctor shall refer to an appropriate specialist. Often pancreas is found to have cancer in the context of this more intensive diagnostics.

A biopsy, which assures for many other types of cancer diagnosis, pancreatic cancer is not always useful. If the investigations suggest the suspicion of a pancreatic carcinoma and the Tumor hasn’t spread, so that a surgical removal is possible, rates of the Doctors, under certain circumstances, to an immediate SURGERY at a certified pancreatic cancer center. Because a tissue sample from the pancreas is often difficult and not without risk. In addition, a biopsy of valuable time you can waste while the aggressive Tumor continues to grow. Patients should be sure to of experienced specialists advise on the risks and Benefits of tissue sampling qualified rate, and Affected with this difficult decision.

The Tumor is detected early, that an Operation is out of the question, is there a Chance for complete healing. Depending on the size of the tumor, the Doctors remove a part or the entire pancreas as well as part of adjacent body parts, such as the duodenum or shares of the Bile duct. The Tumor is removed, it should come after the Operation a supportive chemotherapy for six months. Under certain circumstances, the Operation may switched off chemotherapy for a locally advanced Tumor to shrink. All decisions regarding the optimal treatment strategy can best be done by an experienced pancreas center.

Therapy variants get lust for Life

In most patients the disease is advanced at diagnosis, so that the Tumor can not be surgically removed or are already metastases in other organs. The standard treatment is chemotherapy with the aim to extend survival time and improve the quality of life. Today, chemotherapy of the latest Generation. You can achieve both in terms of life time as well as quality of life significant improvements.

Important for the quality of life for patients a palliative medical support, as in certified cancer centres is offered. This is characterized first by a comprehensive consultation and clarification of possible Tumor-associated complaints, but also the family, social and psychological Situation of the patients and their families. In addition to the important and often necessary treatment of pain but also takes into consideration aspects such as diet and exercise. This is very important as Concerned with the progression of the disease often lose a lot of weight and energy, which impairs the quality of life.

Patients are well-advised to inform yourself ahead of time what treatment options come in addition, or alternatively, eligible for standard therapy, for example by participation in a study. Certain medications can Supplement a chemotherapy or non-success in patients with these strikes. Researchers are investigating new approaches to treatment and early detection, in order to improve the possibilities in these areas. These are offered at cancer centers in scientifically-controlled, clinical studies.

Martin Schuler is the Director of the Internal clinic (tumor research), University hospital Essen, and the Deputy Director of the West German tumor center, the largest cancer center in Germany and one of the leading Oncology centres of excellence of the German cancer aid. For FOCUS Online, he reports on new findings and developments in cancer research and cancer therapy.

Jens Siveke food is a Professor of Translational Oncology at the Medical faculty of the University of Duisburg-Essen. At the West German tumour centre University hospital Essen, specialist in Internal medicine and gastroenterology examines the Emergence of cancer and to develop new therapy strategies.