Pancreas: Types, Symptoms & Treatment


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  • The pancreas is located in the abdomen and is a gland organ.
  • It is an important part of the digestive system, producing enzymes and hormones that help break down foods.
  • The pancreas is a 6 to 10 inch organ and is located behind the stomach.
  • It is fish shaped and extends horizontally across the abdomen.
  • A healthy pancreas produces the correct chemicals to effectively digest the food we eat.
  • The endocrine portion of the pancreas is made up of several cells that secrete hormones straight into the bloodstream.
  • Insulin is a hormone secreted by pancreatic beta cells in response to a rise in blood sugar.
  • Acute or chronic inflammation of the pancreas could signify a presence of pancreatitis.
  • It is possible for cancer to develop in the pancreas.
  • To help keep the pancreas healthy and functioning, a balanced diet must be maintained together with an avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol.

Functionalities:

  • A healthy pancreas is able to produce the right chemicals at the right times in the right quantities in order to properly digest the food we eat.

  • After food enters the duodenum, the exocrine tissues secrete a clear, watery, alkaline juice that contains several enzymes that break down food into small molecules that can be absorbed by the intestines These enzymes include:

  1. Trypsin and chymotrypsin to digest proteins
  2. Amylase to break down carbohydrates
  3. Lipase, to break down fats into fatty acids and cholesterol.

Types of Pancreatitis:

  1. Acute Pancreatitis
  2. Chronic Pancreatitis
  3. Hereditary Pancreatitis
  4. Pancreatic Cancer

Acute Pancreatitis:

  • Acute pancreatitis is a sudden attack causing inflammation of the pancreas and is usually associated with severe upper abdominal pain. The pain may be severe and last several days. Other symptoms of acute pancreatitis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and fever.

  • The most common cause of acute pancreatitis is gallstones. Other causes are alcohol consumption, hereditary conditions, trauma, medications, infections, electrolyte abnormalities, high lipid levels, hormonal abnormalities, other unknown causes.

Chronic Pancreatitis:

  • Chronic pancreatitis is the progressive disorder associated with the destruction of the pancreas. The disease is more common in men and usually develops in persons between 30 and 40 years of age.

  • The most common symptoms are upper abdominal pain and diarrhea. As the disease becomes more chronic, patients can develop malnutrition and weight loss. If the pancreas becomes destroyed in the latter stages of the disease, patients may develop diabetes mellitus.

Hereditary Pancreatitis:

  • Hereditary pancreatitis is a progressive disease with a high risk of permanent problems. Pancreatitis is related to inherited abnormalities of the pancreas or intestine.

  • Acute recurrent attacks of pancreatitis early in life can often progress to chronic pancreatitis. The most common inherited disorder that leads to chronic pancreatitis is cystic fibrosis. Recent research demonstrates genetic testing can be a valuable tool in identifying patients predisposed to hereditary pancreatitis.

Pancreatic Cancer:

  • Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in men and the fifth in women. It accounts for more than 37,000 new cases per year in the United States. Cancer of the pancreas is resistant to many standard treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

  • This cancer grows insidiously and initially does not cause symptoms. The classic presentation of pancreatic cancer is referred to as painless jaundice, a yellowish skin discoloration with no other symptoms. The diagnosis is usually made using different radiographic imaging techniques.

  • If detected in the early stages, pancreatic cancer can be cured by surgical resection. Unfortunately, early detection is more the exception than the rule. At later stages, treatment can improve the quality of life by controlling symptoms and complications.

Symptoms of Pancreatitis:

  • Jaundice
  • Pain in the upper or middle abdomen and back
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

Diagnosis:

  • Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect and diagnose early. There aren’t any noticeable signs or symptoms in the early stages of pancreatic cancer. The signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, when present, are like the signs and symptoms of many other illnesses.

  • The pancreas is hidden behind other organs such as the stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, spleen, and bile ducts.

When you consult a doctor for the Checkup doctor will suggest following tests:

  1. CT scan (computed tomography)
  2. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  3. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
  4. Laparoscopy (surgical procedure to look at organs)
  5. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  6. Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography
  7. Biopsy

Treatment for Pancreatitis:

If the disease is detected in the early stage the treatment is easy and also more chances for curing.

There are various kind of treatments depending upon the stage of Cancer:

  1. Surgery
  2. Ablative techniques
  3. Radiation therapy
  4. Chemotherapy and other drugs
  5. As the Cancer is One of the dangerous disease which is not having permanent Curing Solutions it is better to take precautionary steps like following healthier diets, Good food, Quit Smoking and Alcohol.

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