Pancreatic cancer

Adresse

Switzerland

Christian Toso
Professor
Christian Toso
Head of Division

Pancreatic cancer is mainly of the adenocarcinoma type and develops from precancerous lesions (especially certain types of pancreatic cysts ).

The main risk factors for this cancer are ageing, alcohol consumption, chronic pancreatitis, smoking, obesity and genetic predispositions.

Late symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is usually asymptomatic and only show symptoms in late stages, with abdominal pain or jaundice , resulting from obstruction of the bile ducts .

The diagnosis is made by CT scan, MRI , PET-scan and endoscopy. The latter also makes it possible, if necessary, to place a temporary or permanent stent to remove any biliary obstruction.

Surgical treatment of pancreatic cancer

The therapeutic management of pancreatic cancer depends on the stage of the tumor. Each cancer case is discussed at a weekly multidisciplinary meeting named  tumor board . If the tumor can be removed surgically, chemotherapy is prescribed before the procedure, and then the affected part of the pancreas and surrounding tissue are removed by laparotomy. Thereafter, chemotherapy is offered.

If the preoperative assessment or the surgical procedure reveals that the tumor is too advanced and does not allow surgical resection, chemotherapy is proposed. A re-evaluation of the treatment strategies can later be carried out. However, in case of obstruction of the digestive or bile tracts by the tumor it may be indicated to create surgical shunts, allowing bile and pancreatic secretions to flow through another pathway, for the comfort of the patient.

Adenocarcinoma
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Common cancerous tumor that develops from cells in a glandular lining or from the gland itself
Pancreatic cysts
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pancreatic lesions containing liquid
INFO + Pancreatic cysts
Jaundice
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Yellowing of the skin and conjunctiva due to impaired liver function
Bile ducts
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Channels through which bile secreted by the liver flows into the small intestine.
Stent
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Tubular medical device inserted into a natural cavity to keep it open
Tumor board
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A meeting between specialists from several disciplines related to cancer, to determine the best possible treatment for each patient. 
INFO +  The Digestive Cancers Program

More information

Last update : 04/01/2022