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Pancreatic Cancer - Vitamin D Decreases Risk Up TO 50%!

Sep 4, 2008
INTRODUCTION: Cancer of the pancreas is a disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the pancreas a large organ that lies horizontally behind the lower area of your stomach. The disease is difficult to locate and diagnose for the following reasons: There aren't any visible signs or symptoms in its early stages. It usually metastasizes (spreads) rapidly and is rarely detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it's a leading cause of deaths due to cancer. Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis, even when diagnosed early and sometimes result in diabetes.

TYPES: Several different kinds of cancer can develop in the pancreas. The pancreas contains two different kinds of glands: exocrine and endocrine. The exocrine cells and endocrine cells of the pancreas produce completely different types of tumors. These are far and away the most common kinds of cancer of the pancreas.

Less common kinds of ductal cancers of the exocrine pancreas include adenosquamous carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and giant cell carcinomas. These kinds are distinguished from one another based on how they appear under the microscope. But the type of exocrine pancreatic cancer isn't as important as the stage (extent) of the cancer when it comes to treating the malignancy.

SYMPTOMS: Early diagnosis is difficult because the signs of the cancer are often non-specific and varied. Usual symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen that typically radiates to the back and is relieved by leaning forward (seen in carcinoma of the body or tail of the pancreas), lack of appetite, significant loss of weight and painless jaundice (yellowing of the eye and skin) related to bile duct obstruction (carcinoma of the head of the pancreas).

The disease is usually found during the course of evaluating the above symptoms. Patients diagnosed with it typically have a poor prognosis partly because the cancer usually produces no symptoms early on, leading to locally advanced or metastatic disease by the time of diagnosis. Signs and symptoms may not show up until the cancer is quite advanced and removal by surgery isn't possible.

Patients typically report the gradual onset of nonspecific symptoms such as anorexia, malaise, nausea, fatigue, and midepigastric or back pain. These initial symptoms can be easily attributed to other processes unless a physician has a high index of suspicion for the possibility of underlying pancreatic carcinoma. Delayed diagnosis is a common problem in patients with pancreatic cancer, with fewer than a third of patients being diagnosed within 2 months of the onset of their symptoms. All of these symptoms can have multiple other causes.

RISK: Age is the most important risk factor for pancreatic carcinoma. Risk factors include smoking, certain familial cancer syndromes, and familial chronic pancreatitis. Cigarettes and other forms of smoking is the most common environmental risk factor for pancreatic carcinoma. Cigarette smoking nearly doubles one's risk, and the risk last for at least a decade after quitting.

Several studies including one published on 1 June 2007, indicate that B vitamins such as B12, B6, and folate, can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer when consumed in food, but NOT when ingested in vitamin tablet form. In September 2006, a long-term study concluded that taking Vitamin D can substantially cut the risk of pancreatic carcinoma (as well as other cancers) by up to 50%.

Obesity has been identified as a possible risk factor for pancreatic cancer and may contribute to the higher incidence of this disease among blacks. Alcohol consumption does not appear to be an independent risk factor unless it is associated with chronic pancreatitis. Also, despite early reports to the contrary, coffee consumption does not appear to be an independent risk factor for pancreatic carcinoma.

TREATMENT: The first goal of pancreatic cancer treatment is to eliminate the cancer, when possible. Treatment depends on the stage and location of the cancer as well as on your age, overall health and personal preferences.

Resection surgery is the only potentially curative treatment for persons with Cancer of the pancreas, although many patients are not candidates for this procedure. When the disease is advanced and treatments aren't likely to provide any benefits, your MD may propose ways to relieve symptoms and make you as comfortable as possible Or...he/she may recommend a combination of radiation and chemotherapy treatments when your cancer can't be treated surgically.

Clinical trials are studies to test new kinds of treatment, such as new drugs, new approaches to surgery or radiation treatments, and novel methods such as gene therapy. If the treatment being studied turns out to be safer or more effective than are treatments currently used, it will become the new standard of care.

New treatments now under investigation in clinical trials include: Drugs that stop cancer from producing new blood vessels. Cancer treatment vaccines using various strategies to enhance the immune system to help it recognize cancerous cells as intruders.

CONCLUSION: Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the pancreas. It is difficult to detect (find) and diagnose early and is usually diagnosed with tests and procedures that produce pictures of the pancreas and the area around it. Risk factors include: Age, Male gender, African-American ethnicity, Smoking, Diets high in red meat, Obesity, Diabetes mellitus.

Also: Chronic pancreatitis has been linked, but is not known to be causal, Helicobacter pylori infection, Occupational exposure to certain insecticides, dyes, and chemicals related to gasoline, Family history, 5-10% of patients have a family history of the disease. Alcohol might also be a risk factor. The disease has a five-year survival rate of less than 5%, and as of now there is no effective chemotherapy or radiation therapy for it.
About the Author
About the author: Richard H. Ealom is an ezinearticles.com writer with more than 50 articles on Diseases,Causes,Cures. To learn more about Pancreatic Cancer visit Cancer Breakthrough USA! You have permission to use this article provided this box is kept unchanged.
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