Types of Pancreatic Diseases
Pancreatic diseases include pancreatic cancer and acute or chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatic cancer develops when abnormal cells in the pancreas multiply and form malignant tumors. Pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the pancreas.
Causes of Pancreatic Diseases
The cause of pancreatic cancer has not yet been found. However there are several risk factors that can increase your risk of having the disease. These include:
- Leading a lethargic lifestyle with little to no exercise
- Poor diet
- Diabetes or liver damage
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Family history of pancreatic cancer
Pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzymes are active in your pancreas. The risk factors for this inflammatory condition include:
- Family history of pancreatitis
- Certain medications
- Elevated calcium levels in your blood
- High triglyceride levels
Symptoms of Pancreatic Diseases
When you have pancreatic cancer, symptoms usually do not appear until the disease is in an advanced stage. When symptoms do show up, you might have the following:
- Appetite loss
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood clots
- Lower back pain or stomach pain
When you have chronic pancreatitis, you might have the following symptoms:
- Pain in your upper abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
- Stools that are oily and have a foul odor
Acute pancreatitis, which requires prompt medical care, can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Pain in your upper abdomen that might move to your back or become worse after you eat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tenderness in your abdomen
- Rapid pulse
Treatment for Pancreatic Diseases
The treatment options for pancreatic cancer depends on how advanced it is and whether or not it has spread to other parts of your body. Treatment in general focuses on destroying cancerous cells and stopping cancer from spreading. Pancreatic cancer treatment options include surgery to remove tumors, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
You might be a good candidate for surgery if you have tumors that are in your pancreas and have not spread to other areas. If cancer has spread to other areas, you might need radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy destroys cancerous cells, while chemotherapy lowers the risk of having more cancerous cells grow.
If you have acute pancreatitis, you will need to prompt care at the hospital to reduce inflammation and allow your pancreas to recover. Treatment usually includes fasting, pain medications and intravenous fluids. You might also need treatment for the underlying cause of pancreatitis.
If you have chronic pancreatitis, treatment options depend on the underlying cause. Some options that are available include surgery to remove bile duct obstructions, gallbladder surgery and pancreas surgery. You might also benefit from endoscopic ultrasound to ease chronic abdominal pain, dietary changes, and enzyme supplements.
Pancreatic Disease Prevention
You can’t completely prevent pancreatic diseases, but you can lower your risk of them. A few ways to lower your risk include:
- Stop smoking
- A well balanced diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
If you have symptoms of pancreatic disease, please contact Anthony S. Borcich, MD PC to schedule an appointment. Dr. Borcich will conduct an evaluation to determine what is causing your symptoms.