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Raise Awareness on Pancreatic Cancer — “The Silent Cancer”

Pancreas is the organ that lie at the back side of our abdomen behind the stomach. It is 6 inches in size and can be found surrounded by organs like spleen, liver, and small intestine. The occurrence of infectious tissues in the pancreatic glands marks the initial state of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is also known as a “silent cancer” because the early pancreatic cancer symptoms cannot be identified easily. 

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer at later stage:
1. Rapid Weight Loss:
If your appetite is more or less the same, still you notice a significant loss in your weight, then you must consult a doctor. It’s a warning sign for cancer of any type. 
2. Frequent Abdominal Pain:
A blind pain in the upper abdomen is experienced on a frequent basis which sometimes gets intense enough to bear. The abdominal pain might decrease if one bends in a forward position. Also, the pain occurs mostly during the night time when one is lying straight on the bed. 
3. Fatigue:
The feeling of tiredness for most part of the day without any significant reason is one of the major symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
4. Yellow Skin (Jaundice)
This symptom is exactly similar to the symptoms of jaundice. You must check the colour of your nails, the whites of your eyes, and your urine. Any yellowness indicates the need of a medical consultation.

How to Diagnose?
You must reach out to a specialised doctor if you are feeling any of the symptoms mentioned above. 
Descriptive: The diagnosis starts with a basic consultation that generally requires one’s medical history along with the description of one’s smoking habit, if any or other unhealthy habits. The diagnosis is based on patient’s details about the pain and its location. 
Physical: The doctor may also check the presence of any kind of painful mass in the abdomen or the swollen lymph nodes in the neck. 
MRI/Ultrasound: The lab tests will show a proper result and will help determine if the flow of bile juice has been restricted in the pancreatic gland or not. For such cases, the tests like Abdominal Ultrasound, Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS), and MRI can be taken.

Treatment Methods:
The pancreatic cancer treatment methods are generally dependent on the following factors:
1. The stage of Cancer which determines whether the cancer is limited to pancreas or has spread to other parts of the body. 
2. Whether or not the tumour in the pancreatic gland can be removed with a surgery.

A surgery can be done to remove the organ from the body that will restrict spreading of cancer. If the stage is higher, palliative treatments can be done to relieve the patient of the pain. 

Preventive measures for pancreatic cancer: 
1. Quit Smoking:
Those who smoke have 63% higher chances of developing pancreatic cancer. So, quit smoking!
2. Keep Losing Weight:
An overweight body increases the chances of developing pancreatic cancer.
3. Keep a check on your body:
Closely notice the colour of your urine or any kind of pain occurring in your upper abdomen.

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One should always be watchful for his/her body. Any unusual developments or symptoms should not be ignored. An early detection of pancreas problems can prevent it from becoming pancreatic tumour. In case you observe any of the symptoms, do not miss to meet an experienced gastroenterologist immediately.