August 11, 2008

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the pancreas. Each year about 60,000 are diagnosed in the UK. Depending on the extent of the tumour at the time of diagnosis, the prognosis is generally regarded as poor, with less than 5% of those diagnosed still alive five years after diagnosis, and complete remission still extremely rare.

Early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is difficult because the symptoms are so non-specific and varied. Common symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen that typically radiates to the back and is relieved by leaning forward, loss of appetite, significant weight loss and painless jaundice related to bile duct obstruction. All of these symptoms can have multiple other causes. Therefore, pancreatic cancer is often not diagnosed until it is advanced.

Surgery is possible as is chemotherapy.

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