How Serious Is Pancreatic Cancer?


Quick Answer

Pancreatic cancer is an extremely serious form of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Much of the difficulty lies in the pancreas being located deep within the body. Because of this, by the time a person experiences symptoms of cancer, the cancer is well advanced.

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How Serious Is Pancreatic Cancer?
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Full Answer

The early symptoms of pancreatic cancer are also nonspecific and could be attributed to more benign causes, says the ACS. They include jaundice, back pain, abdominal pain and poor appetite. The ACS estimated that about 48,960 people would be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, and about 40,560 of those would die of the disease.

The treatment for pancreatic cancer often involves a surgery called the Whipple operation, explains the Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases. This operation basically removes a substantial amount of the patient's digestive system, including part of the pancreas, part of the bile duct, the gallbladder and the beginning of the small intestine, a structure called the duodenum. Though the surgery is not as risky as it used to be, its risks are still considerable, as of 2015.

The pancreas is an organ that a human cannot live without, says the ACS. It is responsible for the production of insulin, which converts glucose into energy for the body. If the pancreas is removed, or if cancer interferes with the production of insulin, the patient becomes diabetic. Diabetes in and of itself is a serious disease.

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