Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer in humans and often the prognosis for patients is poor. There are several different types of pancreatic cancer and while many of them are often deadly, there is at least one type that is highly survivable.
Because of the lethality of pancreatic cancer, most treatments focus on prolonging the patient’s life and ensuring that they retain a reasonable quality of life. Surgical interventions can be very effective as a part of this process.
Once pancreatic cancer has been established, diagnostic tests are required to determine the stage and type of the cancer. The stage refers to how far advanced the cancer has advanced and ranges from stage 0, indicating that the cancer is still contained within the pancreas, to stage 4 which means the cancer has spread to other organs in the body.
A battery of tests is required to determine the stage of the cancer and usually diagnostic pancreas surgery NYC is required. Because surgery will always carry some risk, doctors must first determine whether the tumor is removable before any surgery is performed. If imaging tests indicate that the cancer is removable, then it will fall into one of two types. Either the cancer has not spread, or if it has then it is limited, and is therefore removable.
Around 10% of pancreatic cancers are unresectable; this indicates that the cancer has grown into a major blood vessel or has metastasized and thus cannot be removed safely via surgery.
If the cancer is considered to be resectable then there are three surgical options. The Whipple procedure (a pancreaticoduodenectomy) is when the head of the pancreas is removed, sometimes along with a small portion of the stomach or small intestine. This is a difficult and complex surgery. A Distal pancreatectomy involves the removal of the tail of the pancreas. A total ancreatectom is the removal of the entire organ, although this surgery has fallen out of favor.
In around half of all cases, as soon as a surgeon opens a patient up they discover that what they thought was a resectable cancer is in fact inoperable. Usually, surgery will be followed by the administration of chemo and radiotherapy to ensure that any lingering cancer cells cannot reproduce.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer there is and the prognosis is often poor, but sometimes surgical interventions can help. Visit our pancreas surgery NYC clinic for a consultation if you are concerned about your pancreas.