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Understanding Pancreatic Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Jaundice is sometimes the first sign of pancreatic cancer, despite the fact that the illness does not present any early symptoms.

According to Professor Dr. Dejan Ivanov, a general surgery specialist, there are tests and analyses that can indicate premalignant conditions of pancreatic cancer, which then, thanks to the progression of medicine and a better understanding of this disease, gives chances for a cure.

Pancreatic cancer is a particularly difficult form of cancer to treat.

Cancer of the pancreas is a malignant illness that may begin anywhere in the pancreas, including the head, the body, or the tail. The illness is highly dangerous because, as it spreads, it “grabs” the organs that are in its immediate environment very fast. This kind of cancer is the twelfth most prevalent form of cancer that may be found all over the globe.

Understanding Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer of the pancreas rapidly metastasizes to other organs in the body

According to the available data, pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms of cancer that may affect people. Because there are no early signs, unfortunately, it is not recognised until a late stage.

“Jaundice” and a yellowing of the sclera are the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer that present themselves in patients whose illness originates in the head of the pancreas (the sclera). Pain in the abdomen and back may be an indication of the illness when it comes to cancer that affects the body and tail of this organ.

According to Professor Dr. Dejan Ivanov, a general surgery specialist and digestive surgery subspecialist, as well as the manager of the Clinic for Abdominal and Endocrine Surgery at the Clinical Center of Vojvodina, both manifestations are signs that the disease has broken through the capsule of the pancreas and affected the organs that are surrounding it (bile ducts, which can be thought of as a tangle of nerves).

Important pancreatic cancer risk factors that need to be considere

The interlocutor that we have working with our site believes that inheritance is a significant influence. Chronic pancreatitis, commonly known as inflammation of the pancreas, may sometimes result in pancreatic cancer if left untreated for an extended period of time.

A person’s history of having diabetes mellitus type 1 is a risk factor. On the other hand, Professor Ivanov places a particular emphasis on the fact that smoking cigarettes and eating excessive quantities of alcohol are most likely the two most significant contributors.

How to identify symptoms of pancreatic cancer and get a diagnosis as quickly as possible

According to the interlocutor of our portal, pancreatic cancer is a disease of old age. In fact, over ninety percent of pancreatic cancer diagnoses are made in patients who are 55 years old or older.

Therefore, he recommends that we seek medical attention even if we do not have any symptoms, and he provides the following explanation in further detail:

– It is recommended to carry out both a blood test for tumour markers CA 19-9: CEA as well as an ultrasound scan of the abdomen. A CT scan of the abdomen that is performed in accordance with the pancreas protocol is considered to be the single most significant test for the detection of pancreatic cancer.

It is often essential to do a magnetic resonance (MR) of the abdomen in addition to a computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest, a gastroscopy, and the removal of samples of tumour tissue (biopsy).

The treatment of pancreatic cancer

According to Professor Dr. Dejan Ivanov, who is also a full professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Novi Sad and a permanent court expert appointed by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia, the most fundamental and essential method of treating this kind of malignant disease is surgery. Professor Dr. Ivanov says that surgery is also one of the most important ways to treat the disease.

The surgery involves removing the organs that surround the affected area of the pancreas as well as the portion of the pancreas that contains the tumour. The procedures are exceedingly difficult, entail a large amount of time, and call for the participation of an expert surgical team. In addition to this, they are linked to a great deal of potentially life-threatening problems.

Patients who have had radical surgical operations often spend a total of 10 days in the hospital, with the majority of that time spent in the critical care unit for the duration of their hospital stay. According to the doctor, the treatment may include the use of cytostatics or, less often, radiation therapy, depending on the stage of the illness being treated. “Sometimes the use of cytostatics is included,”

Patients get a faster return to normal function thanks to the laparoscopic surgical technique.

By the way, in addition to traditional procedures, the Clinic for Abdominal and Endocrine Surgery at the Clinical Center of Vojvodina has been doing laparoscopic surgery effectively for years. Back in 2018, our portal’s interlocutor was part of the surgical team that carried out the world’s first laparoscopic procedure to treat pancreatic cancer.

After then, this procedure was carried out with the assistance of a Hungarian surgeon named Dr. Laszlo Ikorski, who has worked in the field of laparoscopic abdominal surgery for a considerable amount of time.

It turned out to be a change in the tumour that was located in the distal area of the patient’s pancreas. It is already common knowledge that laparoscopic surgery offers a number of benefits, one of the most notable of which is a noticeably shortened recovery period, along with a reduced likelihood of developing infections. According to Professor and Doctor Ivanov, who heads the Clinic, laparoscopic pancreatic surgery has become one of the main operations done there.

The prognosis as well as possible preventative measures

Unfortunately, the interlocutor of our portal has confirmed that the prognosis for pancreatic cancer is still dismal, and that less than 10% of patients are expected to live for five years following diagnosis.

With the development of medicine and a deeper comprehension of this illness, we have been able to identify premalignant conditions, the elimination of which ensures that the patient will be cured.

In light of this, the professor who was interviewed for our website came to the conclusion that we should have routine checkups with the physician of our choice, undergo ultrasound examinations of the abdomen, and kick our unhealthy habits, which include physical inactivity, smoking, and drinking alcohol.

Dr. Dejan Ivanov is a physician in general surgery as well as a subspecialist in digestive surgery. He is the manager of the Clinic for Abdominal and Endocrine Surgery at the Clinical Center of Vojvodina.

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