Pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer

Pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer?

Although you may eat right, exercise and do all the things recommended to ensure a healthy lifestyle, diseases such as cancer can still sneak up on you, despite regular yearly screenings meant to catch them before they take hold. In fact The American Cancer Society notes that many forms of the disease can be hard to detect depending on the location of the cancerous cells (as well as how large an area is affected), while many early signs, such as weight loss, fatigue and fever may be overlooked until the disease has spread simply because they are common in so many other conditions.

This is especially true when it comes to pancreatic cancer which often lacks definitive symptoms during its early stages. Even when they do occur such as pain in the upper abdomen or upper back, swelling in arms and legs due to a blood clot, bloated stomach, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, chills, fever, and weight loss, not to mention unusual colored sticky stool, they are often mistaken for everything from a bad stomach or flu to ulcers or pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas most often caused by high alcohol use, heavy smoking and/or gallstones or even mumps. Additional complications from this disorder may also include infection, bleeding, and diabetes mellitus, high levels of fat in the blood high blood calcium, some medications, and certain genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis among others.

According to the CDC, acute pancreatitis occurs in about 30 per 100,000 people each year. The condition is generally treated with intravenous fluids, pain medication, and sometimes antibiotics. Typically, patients have forbidden ti eat or drink and a tube may be placed into the stomach to provide nourishment. It was also reported that nearly 17 million cases of pancreatitis were diagnosed in 2013 alone, resulting in 123,000 deaths worldwide.

While this condition is usually detected via CT, and MRI imaging, as well as, abdominal ultrasound or endoscopic ultrasound, the American Society of Clinical Oncology reports that there are no reliable tests for people who may have cancer of the pancreas if there are no symptoms present. However, as it begins to spread, patients often become jaundiced and develop fluid in the abdomen.

Doctors can then use various tests including a biopsy as well as tests including either CT scan, MRI. Endoscopic ultrasound, Laparoscopy, and or Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography ( a the procedure used to X-ray liver and bile ducts), to co cancer. Treatment at that point usually involves a combination of surgery, chemo, and/or radiation. Even so, the prognosis for survival is very poor with only about 23% of patients with still living 1-one year, and just 4% surviving as long as 5- years after being diagnosed.

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