We’ll Help You Through Your Malignancy Cancer Diagnosis
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you may face several overwhelming decisions regarding treatment, outcomes, and more. Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Associates are Colorado’s leading malignancy cancer experts. We’re dedicated to providing the best medical care possible to ensure you get the quality of life you deserve. Whether you’re unsure if you have cancer or need help deciding on the next steps, we’ll be there to help. Our clinics throughout Colorado provide our patients with the gold standard in cancer education and support systems. Reach out to learn how we can help you find relief.
What Is Pancreatic Cancer?
Your pancreas is a gland located between your spine and stomach. It produces hormones that assist in the controlling of blood-sugar levels and enzymes to help with digestion. Pancreatic cancers commonly form in the central duct that connects your pancreas to your common bile duct. This form of cancer is challenging to detect in the early curable stages. It’s not often detected until it has spread to other organs. Also, this cancer is known for being resistant to standard cancer drugs, making it harder to treat.
Are There Different Types of Pancreatic Cancer?
There are two main types of pancreatic cancer based on the different types of cells found within the pancreas. Identifying which type of tumor is necessary as each type reacts differently to specific treatments. We use imaging tests to help diagnose which type of pancreatic cancer a patient suffers from. Here is more information regarding the two main types:
- Exocrine Tumors – Over 90% of all pancreatic tumors fall into this category. This includes the most common type of pancreatic cancer, adenocarcinoma, in the cells lining your organs.
- Neuroendocrine Tumors – These tumors comprise less than 10% of all pancreatic cancers.
How Common is Malignancy Cancer?
Cases of this type of cancer are on the rise. Researchers predict this will be the second leading cause of cancer death by 2030. Currently, pancreatic cancer makes up approximately 3% of all cancers in the United States. For men, it’s the 10th most common type of cancer; for women, it’s the eighth most common.
Common Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms
As mentioned, this malignancy cancer doesn’t have many early signs. Pancreatic cancer symptoms usually don’t appear until the cancer has spread and is starting to affect other organs throughout your digestive system. Since everyone is affected differently, it can be up to one year before symptoms appear and a diagnosis is given. Most diagnosis form from complaints of back or stomach pain and recent diabetes diagnosis. It’s not uncommon for these symptoms to come and go, but they often get more severe after eating or lying down. Here are the most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer:
- Dark Urine
- Light-Colored Stool
- Middle Back Pain
- Itchy Skin
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Gas or Bloating
- Loss or Lack of Appetite
- Blood Clots
- Weight Loss
- New-Onset Diabetes
Potential Risk Factors
Certain risk factors increase an individual’s likelihood of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. These include factors such as family history, race, and smoking. It’s important to remember that having any of these risk factors does not guarantee to get this form of cancer, and the opposite is true. You can be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer without having any of these risk factors. Common risk factors include:
- Smoking Cigarettes, Cigars, or Any Form of Tobacco
- Diabetes, especially Type-2
- Exposure to Chemicals such as Pesticides and Petrochemicals
- Chronic Pancreatitis
- Hereditary Chronic Pancreatitis with Mutations
- Hereditary Syndromes with Mutations
Explore How We Diagnosis Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect early because it’s challenging to inspect during routine examinations. Tumors are hard to discover during routine imaging tests. If our medical specialists suspect the possibility of this malignancy cancer, we’ll perform a combination of pancreas function tests. These tests will determine if your pancreas is functioning as intended. Other diagnostic tests include:
- Imaging Tests – These tests help our clinical staff identify the type and location of tumors. The tests include CT scans, MRIs, PET, and endoscopic ultrasounds.
- Blood Tests – A blood test can help detect tumor markers. Tumor markers are a substance that helps indicate the presence of cancer. We check for high levels of carbohydrate antigen, a protein released by pancreatic cancer cells.
- Staging Laparoscopy – This test uses laparoscopy to determine the severity and extent of pancreatic cancer and whether or not removal is possible. During this procedure, small incisions are made in your abdomen, and a tube with a camera is inserted, allowing our team to see the inside of your abdomen. It’s not uncommon for biopsy’s to be taken.
- Genetic Testing – This test can help determine if your recent diagnosis occurred due to hereditary reasons. We can also use the results from this diagnostic tool to determine which treatment would be most effective.
What to Expect with a Cancer Diagnosis
Getting diagnosed with pancreatic cancer can feel overwhelming. Every case is unique, meaning no two cancers are the same. You can rely on the Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Associates team to create a team of experts to handle your care. Your care team may include a gastroenterologist, a pathologist, and an oncologist. Social workers may be called to help handle the non-medical side of a cancer diagnosis.
Take Advantage of Our Top-Notch Treatments
While identifying and diagnosing pancreatic cancer may be difficult, several treatment options are available. The treatments recommended depending on several factors, including how early it was detected, the severity of the cancer, if the cancer has spread, if the cancer can be removed, your overall health, and more. We use the latest groundbreaking techniques and treatments available. Our team will work with you to create the best treatment plan possible. Pancreatic cancer treatments include:
- Surgery – This treatment is only recommended when our team believes all the cancerous tumors can be removed. It’s the only way to truly cure pancreatic cancer. For surgical intervention to be successful, cancer must only be found in the pancreas, and even then, surgery may not be effective. There are three main surgical approaches to handling pancreatic cancer, the Whipple procedure, distal pancreatectomy, and total pancreatectomy. The location and severity of the cancer determine which surgical technique is used.
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy uses IV fluids or pills to kill cancerous cells. This is a stand-alone treatment, especially for advanced pancreatic cancer individuals. It can also be used before surgery to help shrink the tumor or after surgery to help remove any remaining cancerous cells.
- Radiation Therapy – Through high-energy X-rays, this treatment eliminates cancerous cells. This is often combined with chemotherapy as it can help ease symptoms for patients who don’t qualify for surgery.
- Targeted Therapy – By using specific medications, this treatment targets certain proteins that help cancerous cells grow and spread. It’s not uncommon for this treatment to be combined with others like radiation therapy.
- Pain Management – Pancreatic cancer is known to be a painful disease as it often targets nearby nerves. It’s not uncommon for healthcare professionals to help manage pain through oral medications or steroid injections.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
You don’t have to feel alone in your fight against cancer. Everyone at Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Associates understands that a diagnosis can be life-changing. Still, we’re here to support you throughout the process. Our clinical team will discuss all possible treatment options to create a plan that works for your unique needs. We’ll work tirelessly to bring you the highest-quality care, even in the most challenging conditions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to learn about potential treatments or schedule a cancer screening.Go back