November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. This year, over 45,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas. Read on to find out what you need to know about how your pancreas works and the types of pancreatic cancer.
Types of Pancreatic Cancer
There are two primary types of pancreatic cancer, exocrine pancreatic cancer and endocrine pancreatic cancer. Exocrine pancreatic cancer is the most common type of cancer, starting in the ducts of the pancreas that carry pancreatic juices. In rare cases, the cancer can begin in the cells that produce hormones. This type of pancreatic cancer is known as endocrine pancreatic cancer, or islet cell cancer.
About The Pancreas
The pancreas is an organ located deep in your abdomen, between your stomach and backbone. Surrounded by the liver, intestine and other organs, the pancreas is about 6 inches long. The pancreas is shaped like a long teardrop; the large, rounded end, which is closest to the small intestine is known as the head, the middle the body, and the thin end is known as the tail.
The job of the pancreas is to make pancreatic juices, which contain enzymes that help us to break down food. These juices flow through a system of ducts that lead to the main pancreatic duct. From the pancreatic duct, the juices flow to the duodenum, the start of the small intestine.
As well as producing pancreatic fluid to help digestion, the pancreas is a gland, which makes hormones, including insulin. The hormones produced by the pancreas flow into the bloodstream and are distributed throughout the body, helping the body to store the energy we get from food.
Cancer arises when the normal lifecycle of cells is disrupted, or goes wrong. Sometimes, our bodies create new cells when they are not needed, whilst damaged or old cells don’t die off when they are supposed to. This results in a mass of excess cells that form a tumor. Tumors within the pancreas can be benign or malignant.
Benign tumors are not usually life threatening as they don’t tend to spread to other tissues and other parts of the body and can usually be easily surgically removed. Malignant tumors are more challenging as they can grow back once they have been removed, can spread to other areas in the body and can invade and damage the tissues and organs that surround the pancreas.
For more information about pancreatic cancer, read Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors And Causes. Or, to find out about treating pancreatic cancer with Functional Oncology at Alternative Cancer Treatment Mexico, contact us.