Pancreatic Cancer

Overview of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the leading cancers among all. It is caused by abnormal growth of pancreatic endocrine and an exocrine group of cells. The survival rate is about 5 years.

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer (Lablabay ka Sartan/لبلبے کا سرطان) is defined as abnormal multiplication of cells in the pancreas. The pancreas is a vital endocrine organ that lies behind the stomach. The main function of the pancreas is producing enzymes for the digestion of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
The pancreas is responsible for the production of two main hormones: glucagon and insulin. These hormones are responsible for controlling the glucose (sugar) metabolism. Insulin metabolizes the glucose for energy while glucagon raises the glucose levels when it gets too low.
Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose at early stages because of the location of pancreas. Therefore, it is usually identified at more advanced stages.

Prevalence of Pancreatic Cancer

In 2018, about 18 million people worldwide were diagnosed with cancer worldwide. From which, the half-million population suffered from pancreatic cancer. This is an alarming statistic in which more than 430,000 people cause death.
The survival rate is a percentage of people who are still living with the same type and stage of pancreatic cancer after a specified period. Globally, the survival rate of pancreatic stage estimates 5 years, in which the percentage of people vary according to its stage such as:

  • The percentage of localized pancreatic cancer of stage 0, 1 and 2 is almost 34%.
  • The percentage of regional pancreatic cancer that spreads to nearby organs and lymph nodes is about 12%. Stage 3 is included in this category.
  • If the pancreatic spreads to other organs like liver, lungs etc then the survival rate is about 3%. This type of stage is 4.

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Types of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer symptoms become obvious as it becomes at the advanced stages of the disease. For this reason, there aren’t any early signs of pancreatic cancer.
Following are the most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Blood clots
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Depression

These symptoms become worse as cancer spreads to other areas of the body.

Causes of Pancreatic Cancer

Following are the two types of pancreatic cancer based on the type of pancreatic cells.

Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma- This is one of the most common types of this cancer, about 95 % of people are affected by pancreatic adenocarcinomas. It starts in the exocrine cells of the pancreas which produces the enzymes or builds up in the ducts.
Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs) – This is not as common as adenocarcinoma. It begins in the endocrine cells of the pancreas which are responsible for producing hormones. These hormones are beneficial for managing glucose.

Stages of Pancreatic Cancer

Depending on the expansion of tumours, it is divided into four main types which include:

  • Stage 1: Tumour is localized in the pancreas only
  • Stage 2: tumour starts to expand nearby abdominal tissues or lymph nodes
  • Stage 3: The pancreatic tumour affects the major blood vessels and lymph nodes
  • Stage 4: It is a malignant stage in which tumour spread to other areas of the body, such as the liver

Risk Factors of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists have identified the stimulators that cause pancreatic cancer. Most commonly, smoking and inherited gene mutation are the main factors for causing cancer.



Many triggers that may increase pancreatic cancer in which includes:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Family history of genetic syndromes that can stimulate cancer such as  a BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Obesity
  • Older age, especially after age 65

Health Complications of Pancreatic Cancer

Following are the complications that result from the progression of pancreatic cancer:

  • Weight loss- Due to various factors such as the stomach problem, lack of energy, nausea, vomiting and difficulty digesting food etc.
  • Jaundice- By the blockage of the liver's bile duct causes jaundice.
  • Pain- Tumour suppresses the nerves in the abdomen that causes pain.
  • Bowel Obstruction- Block the flow of digested food from the stomach to the intestine. This is due to the accumulation of cells in the small intestine.


By adopting the healthy lifestyle approaches may reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer in which includes:

  • Quit smoking
  • Less intake of Alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat healthy food and juices

Seek medical check-up if individuals suffer from following common complications.

  • Weight loss
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Abdominal pain

Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer | When to Consult a Doctor

To diagnose pancreatic cancer, a doctor may suggest one of the following tests:

  • Imaging Tests: The imaging tests are quite helpful to create the scans of the internal organs. In this way, a doctor can easily identify the affected area and evaluate the growth of cells. The major techniques are used to diagnose pancreatic cancer such as ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and, sometimes, positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

Can Ultrasound Detect Pancreatic Cancer?

Along with the above techniques, the most advanced technique is endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). It consists of a thin flexible tube with a camera that is inserted down to the stomach. A detailed fine image of the pancreas is obtained.

  • Biopsy:  In this procedure, a small sample of pancreatic tissues are collected through an endoscope, while EUS procedure. Then, examine the sample under a light microscope. Less commonly, the sample is scraped off through fine needle aspiration. It is considered a painful technique.
  • Blood Tests: A doctor may recommend blood tests to identify the presence of tumour markers in the pancreatic cancerous cells. The tumour marker test for pancreatic cancer is called CA19-9. This test is beneficial for the cancer response to the treatment, but it is applicable if a person's CA19-9 levels are elevated. Not all cases, these elevations have been observed.
  • Firstly oncologists diagnose the stage and extent of cancer. As they confirm their diagnosis, then, give the best treatment options to the patients.

Doctors to treat Pancreatic Cancer


Dr. Amjad S.K Durrani

Oncologist | MBBS, AFSA, Medical Oncology, DMRT

Wazir Habib Cancer Center (Johar Town) Rs 3500

Rs. 3500

Minimum Fee


Satisfaction Rate


Years of Experience

Highly recommended. Very good doctor


Dr. Nadeem Zia

Oncologist | MBBS , DMRT , TTPS

Mid City Hospital (Shadman) Rs 3000

Rs. 3000

Minimum Fee


Satisfaction Rate


Years of Experience

Highly Recommended


Dr. Azhar Rashid

Oncologist | MBBS,FCPS,BSc,MSc

Neurospinal & Cancer Care Institute (NCCI) (Saddar) Rs 2000

Rs. 2000

Minimum Fee


Satisfaction Rate


Years of Experience

The doctor has a lot of experience

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