What Is The Pancreas
The pancreas is a small, hockey stick-shaped gland located behind the stomach. The main jobs of the pancreas are to aid in food digestion and regulate blood sugar levels in the body. The pancreas is involved in maintaining blood sugar levels because it makes insulin and glucagon, two hormones that control blood sugar levels.
What Kind Of Treatment Will I Need
The main ways to treat pancreatic cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Ask your doctor what treatments can help you. Even for cancers that are more advanced and harder to treat, treatment can often make symptoms better and slow down the cancer’s growth. Talk with your doctor to find out your options.
The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:
- The stage and grade of the cancer
- The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
- Other health problems you have
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it
Tests That May Be Done
The doctor will ask questions about your health and do a physical exam. It can be hard to find pancreatic cancer early because the pancreas is deep inside the body, making it hard for the doctor to feel something wrong if the cancer is still small. If signs are pointing to pancreatic cancer, more tests will be done. Here are some of the tests you may need:
Biopsy: The doctor takes out a little bit of tissue or some cells to check for cancer. A biopsy is the only way to tell for sure if you have cancer. There are different ways to do biopsies so ask your doctor which type of biopsy you will have.
CT orCAT scan: This test uses x-rays to make pictures of your insides. This can show clear pictures of the pancreas and the area around it to see if the cancer has spread.
MRI scan: This test uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make clear pictures of the inside of the body. This test may be used to learn more about the cancers size and spread. Special types of MRI scans can also be used to look at ducts and blood vessels in and around the pancreas.
Endoscopic ultrasound : This test uses sound waves to make pictures of the inside of the body. A small ultrasound on the tip of a thin tube is passed down the throat, into the stomach, and then into the first part of the small intestine. The ultrasound can be pointed to look at the pancreas. It can also be used to take out a little bit of tissue that can be checked for cancer.
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How Is Pancreatic Cancer Treated
Pancreatic cancer treatment depends on certain things, including where the tumor is located, what stage it is in, how healthy you are and whether or not the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas. Treatment options include:
- Surgical removal: The cancerous part of the pancreas is removed. Lymph nodes near to the pancreas may also be removed. The surgery to remove the pancreas or part of the pancreas is called a pancreatectomy. If your tumor is located in the head of the pancreas, your provider may recommend the Whipple procedure. This surgical method removes the head of the pancreas, the duodenum , the gallbladder, a portion of the bile duct and nearby lymph nodes.
- Radiation therapy: High-speed energy used to kill the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: This method uses drugs that kill cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy: Treatment to help your body fight the cancer. Immunotherapy has largely been ineffective against pancreatic cancer, but about 1% of people with pancreatic cancer and a specific genetic change may benefit from it.
- Targeted therapy: Directed at certain genes or proteins that help cancer grow. Genetic testing is generally how we determine if a targeted therapy is right for you.
- Clinical trials: Talk to your healthcare provider about whether participating in a clinical trial might be an option.
Other things to know about treatment:
The Limitations Of Survival Rates
Survival rates are estimates and are based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they cant predict what will happen in any particular persons case. They also dont take into account multiple factors that could play a role in survival such as age, overall health, and how well a person’s cancer responds to treatment.
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What Resources Are Available For People With Pancreatic Cancer
You might find the following organizations to be helpful:
- Visit our Butts & Guts Podcasts page to learn more about digestive conditions and treatment options from Cleveland Clinic experts.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A pancreatic cancer diagnosis can be shocking and life-changing. You might consider joining a support group for people with pancreatic cancer. Spending time with others who are going through the same things can be empowering and beneficial for your mental and emotional health. You can also talk with a counselor, therapist or social worker about how youre feeling. Knowledge is power, and there are several helpful resources available for you and your family.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/07/2021.
How Long Do You Have To Live With Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer
Life expectancy for pancreatic cancer is often expressed in 5-year survival rates, that is, how many people will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.
Pancreatic cancer 5-year survival rates chart
|Pancreatic cancer stage
The life expectancy for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is very low, estimated to be about three to five months. By stage 4, pancreatic cancer has spread to and damaged surrounding organs, which makes it difficult to treat.
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What Is Cancer Staging
Staging is the most important factor in your cancer treatment and outlook. Once a cancer has been detected and diagnosed, your doctor and cancer care team will work to stage the cancer. A cancers stage is determined by how far, if at all, the cancer has spread beyond the primary location.
In order to determine your cancers stage, your doctor will perform a series of tests and exams to better understand what organs and tissues the cancerous cells have affected.
Physical Status After Treatment
Getting the right nutrition and keeping physically active as much as possible under the circumstances can really impact how a patient tolerates the side effects of treatment and the symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
Younger patients tend to do better because they have fewer other conditions that may limit recovery, but even older patients can positively impact their prognosis by focusing on nutrition and exercise.
Talk to your doctor about what to expect after treatment and what you can do to get the best possible prognosis.
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What Should I Eat
You may need to take a trial-and-error approach while youre figuring out which foods your system can digest easily. Nutrient-dense choices high in protein and antioxidants are best. Maintaining a healthy weight may be easier if you eat small amounts at a time, rather than large meals. Also make sure to drink lots of water.
Beneficial foods include:
Questions To Ask Your Doctor When Diagnosed With Stage Iv Pancreatic Cancer
- What treatment do you recommend? Why?
- Are there any clinical trials available to me at this hospital? At other local hospitals?
- Do you offer molecular profiling or refer patients to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Networks Know Your Tumor® precision medicine service to help find other treatment options?
- What medicine will you prescribe to help control my side effects? Do these medicines cause other side effects?
- Do I need to change my diet?
- Is there a dietitian you recommend?
- Will I need to take pancreatic enzymes or vitamins? If so, how often?
- Should I make any lifestyle changes?
- What support programs are there for me and my family?
- Whom can I speak with about my financial or insurance concerns?
- Who can help me navigate the medical system? Is there an oncology social worker or patient navigator at this hospital?
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Pancreatic Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Pancreas
The pancreas is agland about 6 inches long that is shaped like a thin pear lying on its side. The wider end of the pancreas is called the head, the middle section is called the body, and the narrow end is called the tail. The pancreas lies between the stomach and the spine.
The pancreas has two main jobs in the body:
- To make juices that help digest food.
- To make hormones, such as insulin and glucagon, that help control blood sugar levels. Both of these hormones help the body use and store the energy it gets from food.
For information on pancreatic cancer in children, see the PDQ summary on Childhood Pancreatic Cancer Treatment.
Life Expectancy Of Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer
The life expectancy for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is considered one of the lowest, since the disease is considered one of the worst of the existing types of cancer. As of now, many medical resources pin the median survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer patients to be about three to five months, depending on the condition of the patient.
The lower life expectancy is due to the fact that the cancer, at this point, spreads to the surrounding organs. Since this happens, its difficult for a patient to recover from the cancers damage, even if undergoing treatment.
Treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer often involves chemotherapy and the administration of pain-relieving drugs for patients. Patients also receive palliative surgery, which may include a biliary bypass, gastric bypass and/or an endoscopic stent placement.
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Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Trials
Pancreatic cancer is a difficult type of cancer to treat. Researchers and various organizations continue to search for more effective solutions for this disease. It aims to improve existing treatments, reduce side effects, and develop new therapy methods for pancreatic cancer patients. Massive Bio determines the research study that best suits you among hundreds of clinical trials and brings you together with these clinics. If you are looking for a clinical research suitable for your disease, you can contact us.
Pancreatic Cancer: How Staging Works
The Importance of Staging
After youre diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, your doctor will work to identify your cancers exact stage. Knowing a cancers stage is vital to understanding and making decisions about your treatment options, as well as to predict your outlook.
Learn how staging works and understand how to make sense of the terms, letters, and numbers that doctors use to talk about pancreatic cancer.
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Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer
Treatment options for pancreatic cancer in stage four are based on the location and extent of the disease. These treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and sometimes a combination. Because cancer has spread to nearby organs, surgery alone may not effectively remove the entire tumour. In this case, patients will be treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgeons may also perform a pancreaticoduodenectomy, which involves removing the whole pancreas, bile duct, spleen, and gallbladder. Total pancreatic cancer is another option, which removes the entire pancreas and liver.
If the tumour grows beyond the pancreas, it may spread to other organs, including the liver, lymph nodes, and bones. Pancreatic cancer is typically staged T4, with T0 being the earliest stage. Patients with stage 4 pancreatic cancer should see a doctor immediately. Fortunately, there are treatments for pancreatic cancer that effectively prevent the tumour’s spread.
Number Of Treatments And Overall Survival
Because our aim was to analyze combined-modality approaches for treating PCLM, we explored the relationship between the number of treatments received and the overall survival rate throughout the follow-up period. Our results showed that the overall survival rate throughout the follow-up period was directly proportional to the number of treatment modalities received .
Survival among 164 patients with pancreatic cancer liver metastases according to the number of treatments received.
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Strategies To Improve Treatment Of Stage Iv Pancreatic Cancer
The development of more-effective cancer treatments requires that new and innovative therapies be evaluated with cancer patients. Clinical trials are studies that evaluate the effectiveness of new drugs or treatment strategies. Future progress in the treatment of Stage IV pancreatic cancer will result from the continued evaluation of new treatments in clinical trials. Participation in a clinical trial may offer patients access to better treatments and advance the existing knowledge about treatment of this cancer. Patients who are interested in participating in a clinical trial should discuss the risks and benefits of clinical trials with their physician. Areas of active exploration to improve the treatment of Stage IV pancreatic cancer include the following:
How Can I Prevent Pancreatic Cancer
We dont know what actually causes pancreatic cancer, so its difficult to know how to prevent it. However, you can change your day-to-day behaviors to become healthier. These tips may help reduce the risk of getting pancreatic cancer:
- Dont smoke. If you do smoke or use tobacco in any form, try to quit.
- Try to reach and maintain a normal weight by eating healthy and exercising.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, or quit drinking altogether.
- Try to avoid getting diabetes. If you have it, control your blood sugar levels.
- Use safety equipment if your work exposes you to toxins.
Survival Rates By Stage
If youve been diagnosed and your stage has been determined, you may be curious about your outlook. An outlook is based on information compiled from people who have a similar cancer.
Although theyre useful, survival statistics arent definitive. Make sure you discuss your individual outlook with your doctor so you can better understand what it means for you.
Prognostic Index Calculation And Stratification Into 4 Treatment Outcome Groups
RRD was calculated for each patient using the following equation: h/h0 = exp . Because the PI was expressed as h/h0, where h/h0 was the RRD for a given patient, and using X1, X2, X6 to represent the clinical variables , the equation can be rewritten as follows:
All variables were introduced as dichotomous variables . The median PI value was 0.221 higher PI values indicated a worse prognosis. Using the PI values, we could stratify our study population into 4 groups with significantly different survival times :Low-risk group, PI < 0.5 Moderate-risk group, PI 0.50 High-risk group, P I 00.5] and Extremely high-risk group, PI > 0.5 .
Survival among 159 patients with pancreatic cancer liver metastases according to prognostic indexes .
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What Is Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer
Stage 4 cancer means that the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. It may have spread to the lungs, liver or lining of your tummy . This is advanced or metastatic cancer.
Diagram showing stage 4 pancreatic cancer
Possible treatments: You may be able to have chemotherapy to slow down the growth of the cancer. You can also have treatments to manage any symptoms. Your doctor or nurse may call the cancer inoperable or unresectable, which means that surgery isnt an option.
Read more about advanced pancreatic cancer.
Systemic Therapy: Precision Cancer Medicine Chemotherapy And Immunotherapy
Systemic therapy is any treatment directed at destroying cancer cells throughout the body. Patients with locally advanced and metastatic pancreatic cancer require systemic treatment to decrease the chance of cancer recurrence and prolong survival. All patients should consider participation in a clinical trial evaluating new. systemic therapies which include precision cancer medicines and chemotherapy.
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Pancreatic Cancer Spread To Liver
The choice of treatment depends on the stage of the disease and whether the tumour has spread to the liver or not. This article will focus on the treatment options available to patients with pancreatic cancer metastasizing to the liver. It will also discuss the patient’s chances of survival. This article will review the clinical characteristics of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, including its Metastasis to the liver. The following sections will discuss the possible treatments for Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, including chemotherapy.
What Are Some Of The Risk Factors For Developing Pancreatic Cancer
The strongest risk factors for pancreatic cancer are smoking, obesity, and diabetes. You also are at a higher risk if you are older than 55 or if you are African American. You are at a much higher risk if you have a family history of pancreatic cancer, defined as two or more first-degree relatives with pancreatic cancer.
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Better Prognosis For Resectable Tumors
Patients whose tumors are found before they have metastasized or become locally advanced tend to have longer survival rates, on average, because their tumors can usually be resected .
About 15 to 20 percent of all pancreatic tumors are resectable. These include stage I and stage II tumors. Rarely, locally advanced stage III tumors, which are typically considered unresectable , are characterized as borderline and may be removed if the patient has access to an experienced, highly trained surgeon.
Tumors can still grow back in many patients. So, on average, patients whose tumors were resected live for 2.5 years after their diagnosis and have a five-year survival rate of 20 to 30 percent.