Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

The pancreas is a gland behind your stomach and in front of your spine. It produces juices that help break down food and hormones that help control blood sugar levels. Problems with the pancreas can lead to many health problems. These include

  • Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas: This happens when digestive enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself
  • Pancreatic cancer

The pancreas also plays a role in diabetes. In type I diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the body’s immune system has attacked them. In type II diabetes, the pancreas loses the ability to secrete enough insulin in response to meals.

Cancer of the pancreas is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Some risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Long-term diabetes
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Certain hereditary disorders

Pancreatic cancer is hard to catch early. It doesn’t cause symptoms right away. When you do get symptoms, they are often vague or you may not notice them. They include yellowing of the skin and eyes, pain in the abdomen and back, weight loss and fatigue. Pancreatic cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.  The exact timing of surgery and type of surgery depends on the xrays and other endoscopic tests which show how big the tumor may be.

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