Advanced stage pancreatic cancer is a when a cancer arising in the pancreas is a non-operable, due to its late symptoms and insidious progress. Pancreatic cancer, which is among the deadliest cancer types, is often diagnosed late due to its rapid, silent, and aggressive development. Because Advanced stage pancreatic cancer spreads to many areas, it cannot be treated with radiotherapy or surgery. Even if imaging tests show spreading in only one area, cancer cells tend to leap into other organs in small groups. In these cases of metastatic disease, only chemotherapy and clinical trials are the available options for treatment.
Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms
Pancreatic cancer, also called the silent disease, rarely gives symptoms in its early stages. Unfortunately, when it starts to give symptoms, most of the time, the tumor overflows out of the pancreas and the probability of successful treatment decreases. The most common complaints in patients with pancreatic cancer are pain, jaundice and weight loss.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth cause of cancer-related deaths in the USA, and the second cause of stomach/ gut related cancers after colorectal cancer. In 85-90% of the cases, pancreatic cancer is found as locally advanced, unresectable, or metastatic.
Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors
It has been observed that pancreatic cancer is more common in smokers and overweight people. Smoking, as the cause of pancreatic cancer, is almost 30% of patients. Diabetes increases the rate of developing pancreatic cancer by two times compared to healthy individuals. Diabetes is observed in 60-80% of pancreatic cancer patients. It is also known that up to 10% of pancreatic cancers are familial or hereditary, for example in patients with history of BRCA 1 or 2 mutation running in their family.
Pancreatic Cancer Stages
The doctor stages the cancer based on test results. The stages of pancreatic cancer are as follows:
Stage I: Cancer is limited in the pancreas.
Stage II: Cancer has spread beyond the pancreas to surrounding tissues and organs. Lymph nodes may be involved.
Stage III (locally advanced): The cancer has moved out of the pancreas and invades the blood vessels near the pancreas. It may have spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage IV (metastatic): The cancer has gone out of the pancreas and has spread to other organs, such as the liver, lung, bones, and abdominal membrane (peritoneum).
What is the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer?
Treatment of pancreatic cancer varies depending on the stage of the disease, the location of the cancer in the pancreas, the patient’s age, general condition, and the patient’s preferences. The first goal in treatment is to remove the cancerous tissue completely by surgery if possible. Since pancreatic cancer typically spreads early and is rarely diagnosed at an early stage, this is often not possible.