Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas which is an organ in your abdomen that lies behind the lower part of your stomach. The function of the pancreas is to secrete enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars. The pancreas plays a very important role in your body’s health.
Even when diagnosed early, pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis. Usually this cancer is not diagnosed early and has already metastisized rapidly to other parts of the body. Signs and symptoms generally do not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and complete surgical removal isn’t possible.
Typical Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
- Upper abdominal pain that may radiate to your back
- Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Blood clots
Stages of Pancreatic Cancer
- Stage I. Cancer is only present in the pancreas.
- Stage II. Cancer has spread beyond the pancreas to nearby tissues and organs and may have spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage III. Cancer has spread beyond the pancreas to the major blood vessels around the pancreas and may have spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage IV. Cancer has spread to distant sites beyond the pancreas, such as the liver, lungs and the lining that surrounds your abdominal organs (peritoneum).
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells. You may receive radiation treatments before or after cancer surgery, and often in combination with chemotherapy. Or, your doctor may recommend a combination of radiation and chemotherapy treatments when your cancer can’t be treated surgically. Typically SBRT is utilized as a radiation treatment for this type of cancer. To learn more about SBRT click here.