In recent decades, the global number of pancreatic cancer cases has been constantly on the rise. In 2020, just under five hundred thousand people died from pancreatic cancer in America alone. On the contrary, pancreatic cancer is not a very common cancer type. It only makes up approximately three percent of the total number of cancer cases. According to cancer research centers, this year is likely to record over 62000+ pancreatic cancer cases, out of which 50,000 cases are expected to result in death.
Diabetic patients pose an increased risk of getting this cancer. A diabetic patient needs to look out for a sudden spike that doesn’t steady for long despite best efforts. This could be a cancer indicator.
Conversely, people who get out-of-the-blue diabetes are also likely to get diagnosed with this cancer. Other causes include poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, heavy drinking, etc. Pancreatic cancer has also been linked to the use of ranitidine products. As you may already know, the Zantac litigation has attracted much attention since 2019. The repercussions of this cancer-causing drug have been affecting Zantac users for forty long years.
Common symptoms include jaundice, abdominal or back pain, weight reduction, and chronic fatigue. The symptoms might differ from person to person depending upon the tumor location.
Diagnosis And Treatment
One of the technological drawbacks in this scenario is that there aren’t any effective screening tests that could detect pancreatic cancer at its early stages. This makes it a difficult disease to treat. It tends to metastasize before most patients develop symptoms and get diagnosed. And until recently, doctors couldn’t find effective cancer drugs.
Like all cancers, pancreatic cancer patients undergo staging, typically by CT or MRI, to see how advanced or widespread it has become. Evidence shows that almost half of pancreatic cancer patients experience metastasis during diagnosis. Without question, these patients will require chemotherapy for treatment.
Cancer cases with small tumors localized to the pancreas are known as resectable cancers, whereas large tumors involving critical vascular structures are called unresectable tumors. There is another type that falls somewhere between these two categories. They are known as borderline resectable.
The five principles of a successful pancreatic cancer operation include
- Removal of the main tumor
- Achieving a negative margin without leaving cancer cells behind
- Removal of associated lymph nodes
- Minimization of operative complications
- Maximization of long-term survival and possible cure for patients.
Major flaws in treatment for pancreatic cancer
- One of the major flaws in the pancreatic cancer treatment space is that many patients who could benefit from an operation are denied the chance of getting one.
There are many reasons for this, such as the overwhelming pervasive nihilism and pessimism in the medical community for this disease. As a result, many patients are told there is no hope. Secondly, many operations are not offered due to a surgeon’s lack of experience.
- The second major flaw is that patients who will not benefit from surgery seek useless operations. Many of these patients have positive margin operations, where the tumor is left behind. And these patients are known to have little or no benefit from the operation compared to just receiving chemo and radiation.
Furthermore, 40% of patients do not receive the recommended chemotherapy after surgery, which has been proven to improve survival. Mainly due to significant surgical complications.
Also, many patients develop an early spread of cancer after their operation, with up to 25 percent of patients developing recurrence and dying within one year of a seemingly curative operation. These tumor cells are generally present before the operation. It’s not the visible tumor that’s so dangerous but the tumor cells that we can’t see, which shorten life spans.
While some cancers follow a declining trend, research and surveys predict a rise in the number of pancreatic cancer cases in the following years. Despite the severity of these cancers, many cancer and healthcare institutions are yet to catch up with the expertise and infrastructure required to offer treatment to patients.
Although these flaws hinder effective treatment, several medical experts and researchers strive to improve the cancer treatment space to offer better cures.
However, surgery remains the only proven potentially curative treatment. And through many years of practice and innovation, today’s world has access to increasingly complex and advanced surgical procedures that can help cure severe cancers like pancreatic cancer. This technical expertise has significantly lowered complications and has witnessed the highest success rates in the United States.