Pancreatic cancer: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention tips | Health - Hindustan Times

Pancreatic cancer: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention tips

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Jan 07, 2024 12:47 PM IST

Pancreatic cancer: Here's all you need to know about the symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention tips for pancreatic cancer

The prevalence of pancreatic cancer is higher than one can imagine hence, it is crucial to be vigilant about its symptoms and seek immediate medical attention without any further delay as timely treatment is key to managing this cancer. It is a known fact that pancreatic cancer occurs in the cells of the pancreas, a critical organ that produces digestive enzymes and regulates blood sugar.

Pancreatic cancer: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention tips (Photo by Ersin Arslan/Zoonar/picture alliance)
Pancreatic cancer: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention tips (Photo by Ersin Arslan/Zoonar/picture alliance)


In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Donald John Babu, Consultant Surgical Oncologist, at Medicover Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, shared, “This form of cancer arises when there are alterations (mutations) in the pancreatic cells, leading them to grow uncontrollably and form a mass. This mass could be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). There are two classifications of pancreatic cancer: exocrine tumours are more prevalent than neuroendocrine tumours.”

He added, “The exact origin of pancreatic cancer remains elusive, despite extensive research. According to various studies, there is a strong genetic link when it comes to this cancer. Several risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, hereditary syndromes that heighten the risk of cancer, and a family history of pancreatic cancer. Obesity and age over 65 are some of the culprits behind this cancer.”

The symptoms:

Dr Donald John Babu, revealed, “Pancreatic cancer symptoms are not easily identifiable for most people, which is why the disease often remains undetected in its early stages. As the condition advances, one may start to experience certain signs such as pain in the abdomen that may radiate to the back, yellowing of skin and eyes indicative of jaundice, general tiredness, reduced appetite, bouts of vomiting, and nausea, loss of weight, itching on the skin, dark-colored urine and new onset or worsening of pre-existing diabetes. These signs shouldn't be ignored and one should seek proper diagnosis.”

The treatment:

Asserting that it is imperative to seek timely medical intervention after the confirmed diagnosis of this cancer, Dr Donald John Babu said, “The surgical excision of the cancer-ridden portion of the pancreas is known as either a pancreatico-duodenectomy or distal pancreatectomy, contingent on the tumor's location. Radiation therapy means high-velocity energy to eradicate cancer cells, while chemotherapy utilizes medication to kill the cancer cells.”

Preventive measures:

Dr Donald John Babu advised, “Avoid smoking and alcohol, and keep your weight in check through a balanced diet and consistent physical activity. Implement preventive strategies against diabetes to manage your glucose levels effectively. Use a glucometer to check blood sugar levels at home from time to time as recommended by the expert. Adhering to these preventive measures will help to keep pancreatic cancer at bay.”

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