Pancreatic cancer (pancreatic carcinoma)
Pancreas and adjacent organs
The pancreas (pancreas) belongs to the digestive organs. It produces digestive juices and releases them into the small intestine via the pancreatic duct. The Langerhans cells are stored in the pancreas: they produce the hormone insulin, which is needed for the breakdown of blood sugar.
Pancreatic cancer risk factors
Risk factors can be:
- higher age
- familial cancer risk
Chronic pancreatitis: a recurring, inflammation of the pancreas, often barely noticeable. Cause can include gallstones or excessive alcohol consumption. There may also be a genetic cause.
Pancreatic cancer Obesity (obesity)
Pancreatic cancer symptoms
Cancer of the pancreas (pancreatic carcinoma) usually causes little symptoms in the early stages. Unfortunately, complaints often indicate that the cancer is already at an advanced stage.
Possible symptoms are:
Sudden, usually painless jaundice: It causes yellowing of the skin and eyes, leading to light stools, dark urine and itching of the skin.
Diffuse upper abdominal pain that pulls like a belt in the back.
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea
Pancreatic cancer diagnosis
For diagnosis, the digestive organs in the upper abdomen must be displayed, for example, with ultrasound, computed tomography or magnetic resonance tomography. In addition, a gastrointestinal examination is performed, in which the mouth of the pancreatic duct can be accurately examined in the small intestine.
Pancreatic cancer therapy
Surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue is the most important treatment option for pancreatic cancer. In addition, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used.
However, pancreatic cancer can often not be cured with these treatments alone. Specialized medicines can increase survival time in those whose cancer can not be managed.
Every year around 1300 people in Switzerland contract pancreatic cancer, which is about 3% of all cancers. The disease affects mainly the elderly: 36% of patients are 50 to 69 years old at the time of diagnosis, 59% are 70 or older.