Pancreatic cancer diagnosis is done using various tests. It is important to diagnose pancreatic cancer accurately, as treatment plans are devised based on this information. Today, we have modern treatment facilities available for pancreatic cancer, which are helping in the effective management of the condition.
The first step in pancreatic cancer diagnosis involves a physical examination and medical history assessment. When an individual presents with symptoms that indicate pancreatic cancer, the doctor examines the patient to understand the cause of those symptoms. If the doctor suspects pancreatic cancer, additional tests will follow.
The first and essential step toward pancreatic cancer diagnosis is knowing about the person's medical history and physical examination.Along with physically examining the patient, the patient’s medical history is also discussed in detail. This helps doctors understand the possible causes of symptoms.
Blood tests are usually important for pancreatic cancer diagnosis because they provide essential information about the cancer stage and also help in determining effective treatment options. Some blood tests are used to look for tumor markers, such as CA-19-9 and CEA. One must note that having these tumor markers does not always indicate pancreatic cancer. Therefore, additional tests, like imaging scans, are recommended for a conclusive diagnosis.
Another set of tests for the diagnosis and staging of pancreatic cancer includes imaging tests. These imaging tests are used for visualizing the detailed pancreas, nearby tissues and structures, and any kind of abnormality.
CT scans offer cross-sectional, detailed images of the abdomen while detecting any kinds of tumors found in the pancreas and the extent of the spread of the cancer. During the test, a contrast dye is injected into a particular vein to get enhanced images to improve the tumor's visibility.
Another essential imaging test used for pancreatic cancer diagnosis is MRI, which makes use of magnetic fields as well as radiowaves to create elaborate images of the pancreas and the nearby vessels.
Endoscopic ultrasound makes use of a thin and flexible tube called an endoscope, which is equipped with an ultrasound probe to get high-resolution and elaborate images of the pancreas.
During a PET scan, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into the body. This scan is done to look for areas with increased metabolic activity, which indicates the presence of cancer cells.
For a definitive diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, a biopsy is recommended. A biopsy refers to the removal of a small sample of tissue from the pancreas and its examination under the microscope for the presence of cancerous cells.
Fine needle aspiration, or FNA, is a common biopsy method in which a hollow and thin needle is inserted into the skin to collect a sample of tissues from the pancreas.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a diagnostic test used for the evaluation of pancreatic samples. During this procedure, a tube with a camera on its tip is passed through the patient's mouth into the stomach and duodenum, and then into the pancreatic and bile ducts. This helps the doctors view any kind of abnormality or blockage in the pancreas. During this procedure, the doctor may also collect a tissue sample for further examination; therefore, this procedure is also known as an ERCP biopsy.
Laparoscopy is another invasive diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that involves the insertion of a flexible and thin tube with a camera and a light into the body. This procedure helps the specialists examine the structures of the pancreas for abnormalities.
Once the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is confirmed, pancreatic cancer staging is done. Staging is a process that aids in examining the tumor and determining the extent of the spread of the cancer and its severity. Based on these factors, pancreatic cancer is categorized into stages 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. This helps the doctors get relevant information about the patient's prognosis and design an effective treatment plan.
Designing an effective pancreatic cancer treatment involves different aspects, such as the tumor's location, the patient's overall health, the possibility of removing the cancer or not, and the cancer's stage.
A surgical procedure for pancreatic cancer is considered to be an effective pancreatic cancer treatment. The doctors go for surgery when the tumor is localized and can be removed completely.
This is an effective treatment for pancreatic cancer. This surgical procedure for pancreatic cancer involves the removal of the pancreas head, a small part of the common bile duct, the gallbladder, the duodenum, and, in some cases, a part of the stomach.
Distal pancreatectomy is recommended for patients who have pancreatic cancer located in the tail of the pancreas. During this pancreatic cancer operation, the tail of the pancreas is removed. The spleen may also be removed as a part of this procedure, depending on the extent of the disease.
A total pancreatectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the entire pancreas.
Chemotherapy, or chemo, for pancreatic cancer is a significant treatment for this type of cancer. Chemotherapy involves administering drugs to target and kill cancerous cells. The commonly recommended chemotherapy drugs for pancreatic cancer include nab-paclitaxel, gemcitabine, cisplatin, and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). These pancreatic cancer medications have been found to be effective in the management of pancreatic cancer.
Radiation therapy is a pancreatic cancer therapy that makes use of radiation beams to target and kill cancerous cells.
Targeted therapy is a pancreatic cancer treatment line that targets specific molecules that are responsible for the growth and spreading of cancer cells.
Immunotherapy is a pancreatic cancer treatment procedure that involves the re-engineering of the patient’s immune system to identify and attack the cancerous cells.
Palliative care is a line of treatment that focuses on offering support and making efforts to improve the quality of life. Palliative care for pancreatic cancer includes pain management, symptom control, emotional support, advance care planning, and extending support for caregivers.
Clinical trials involve conducting studies and research to discover new drugs and treatments for better management of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer patients who have exhausted their standard treatment options may consider enrolling in clinical trials where they can try new treatments. It is important to note that not all patients are eligible for clinical trials, and they must have a detailed discussion with their treating doctor before enrolling in a clinical trial.
So far, no treatment method has been identified as a pancreatic cancer cure. All these treatment approaches are, however, found to be effective in the management of pancreatic cancer.
Selecting the right healthcare facility for pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment plays an essential role in determining its success rate. Thus, experts often recommend selecting a hospital that can help patients receive holistic care when it comes to pancreatic cancer treatment. As a leading pancreatic cancer hospital in India, HCG stands out from the crowd with its high-end treatment facilities and clinical expertise and helps pancreatic cancer patients receive the highest quality care.
The key to effective management of pancreatic cancer lies in accurate pancreatic cancer diagnosis and timely treatment. It is important for patients to not ignore any symptoms and see a doctor if anything alarming is observed. There are various options available for the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer, which help doctors administer care that is both patient-centric and personalized.