Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most commonly occurring cancer in men and the 11th most commonly occurring cancer in women according to WCRF (World Cancer Research Fund International).
However, with the advancement of technology, experience, and new protocols, the survival rates of pancreatic cancer patients are also increasing.
Though the detection of pancreas cancer itself is a matter of concern, with the right treatment with the right doctor at the right time, you can beat pancreatic cancer.
Let’s meet one of our patients, Andrew who defeated pancreatic cancer.
Andrew is a 42-year-old businessman from Lusaka, Zambia, a father of three active kids and husband of a wonderful wife. He loves to eat different cuisine and is a caring husband.
Two years ago, Andrew experienced his first abdominal pain, he thought it was because he ate something which might trigger the pain. However, the pain fluctuated and remained even after he visited his local doctor who prescribed medicine. Andrew had never experienced such kind of pain before.
As the days passed, Andrew’s appetite also diminished so much that he was losing five pounds a week. Lucy Andrew’s wife became very concerned and encouraged Andrew to visit another doctor. Andrew visited a gastroenterologist and after physical examination, the doctor suggested Imaging tests be done. The result of the test revealed a lesion (damage caused to a part of the body due to injury or illness or tumor) on his pancreas and the doctor suggested doing a biopsy. The result came and pancreatic cancer was detected.
The doctor called Andrew to meet as the biopsy report came. Andrew and his wife visited the hospital and the doctor told Andrew that he had pancreatic cancer. The doctor suggested he consult an oncologist for a further line of treatment.
Andrew and Lucy went emotional after listening to the news of cancer and lots of negative thoughts were going in their minds at that point of time. Lucy supported Andrew and they want the best possible treatment for her husband.
Lucy started her research for the best pancreatic cancer treatment and her research end at MedicoExperts. After getting her inquiry MedicoExperts explains to her the tumor board approach for the treatment and also arranged her online video consultation with the oncologist to clear all her doubts regarding the treatment. She and Andrew understood the treatment protocols and decided to come to India for the treatment.
After 15 days Andrew along with his wife landed in India and got admitted to the hospital on the same day. The evaluation test was performed to check the current state of cancer and the test revealed that pancreatic cancer was Stage III, and the tumor was the size of 6 cm.
The treatment started with weekly chemotherapy. Two weeks after Andrew’s chemotherapy the doctor began radiation treatment. Now Andrew was ready for the surgical portion of his treatment. The surgical oncologist performed a Whipple procedure, which removed part of his pancreas and small intestine.
After the treatment re-evaluation test is performed and the result revealed no cancer was detected.
Andrew and Lucy were very happy with the result and thanked the doctors and MedicoExperts.
This could be your story as well to defeat aggressive cancer.
Before we start our discussion on the possible treatment options for pancreatic cancer, Let’s understand what pancreas cancer is.
Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the pancreas. Cells of the pancreas start growing out of control. There are various types of pancreas cancer as per the location of cancer in the pancreas. That’s why it is important for you to know about the pancreas and its parts.
For those who don’t understand Pancreas, let’s understand what is Pancreas.
What is the pancreas?
The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach. As you can see in the image, Its shape is like a fish with a wide head and short tail. In adults, its size ranges from 2 to 6 inches.
There are 2 types of cells in the pancreas
Exocrine cells from exocrine glands and ducts. The majority of the pancreas is made up of exocrine glands. Exocrine glands make enzymes that help in digestion in the stomach. Exocrine glands make digestion enzymes that empty in the upper part of the small intestine.
Endocrine cells form a small part of the pancreas. These cells make important hormones like insulin and glucagon. These hormones control blood sugar levels in the body.
Pancreatic cancer starts either in endocrine cells or exocrine cells. Based on that there are 3 types of pancreas cancer.
What are different types of Pancreatic cancer?
As you now know that exocrine cells form the majority of the pancreas, it is most likely that you have exocrine cancer when you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
There are 3 types of pancreas cancer.
- Pancreatic adenocarcinoma: Almost 95% of pancreas exocrine cancers are adenocarcinoma. It starts in the ducts of the pancreas. Or rarely does it occur in the cells that produce pancreatic enzymes.
- Adenosquamous carcinoma: It occurs in the squamous cells layer of the pancreas. It is a very less common type of pancreas cancer.
- Ampullary cancer: Cancer occurs in the ampullary. The location where the bile duct and pancreatic duct meet and empties in the small intestine. Ampullary cancers are not considered pancreatic cancer but they are treated the same way as pancreatic cancer.
Now you know about various types of pancreas cancer, Let’s understand the various stages of pancreas cancer.
Stages of cancer depend on where cancer is located, how much it is spread, and whether it is affecting other body parts or not.
Doctors use the TNM system to find the stage of cancer. TNM stands for
Tumor: Size of the primary tumor and location of the tumor.
Node: Whether the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes. If yes then up to how much extent
Metastasis: Whether cancer has spread to the other body parts
Based on this, there are 5 stages of pancreatic cancer
In this stage, cancer has not spread outside the duct in which it has started. It is a very early stage so generally, a person does not feel any kind of symptoms.
In this stage, the tumor size is larger than 2 cm. But it has not spread outside to any lymph nodes or nearby organs.
In this stage, the tumor grows larger than 4 cm. It spreads beyond the pancreas. In later stage 2, it may spread to nearby lymph nodes but not to arteries or other parts of the body.
In this stage, the tumor spread to nearby lymph nodes and regional arteries but not to distant organs.
This is the most advanced stage of cancer and the tumor spreads to the other parts of the body.
Now, we will see symptoms of pancreas cancer.
Symptoms may vary as per the location of cancer and in which stage cancer is.
These are common symptoms found in pancreas cancer.
- Unjustified weight loss and loss of appetite
- Itching skin
- Dark Urine
- Jaundice symptoms yellowish skin and eyes
- Pain in the abdomen that radiates to back
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Blood clots
- Nausea and fatigue without any reason
If symptoms remain persistent for long, it is recommended to go through screening.
Now, we will see what causes pancreas cancer, what are the risk factors.
There are various risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer.
- DNA level mutation in pancreatic cells.
- Family history of pancreatic cancer
- Older age. The majority of pancreas cancer occurs after 65
- Frequent inflammation of the pancreas
Apart from that, long-standing diabetes and poor diet also increase the risk of pancreas cancer.
Now, we will see an important part, diagnosis, and treatment of pancreas cancer.
Imaging tests help to develop pictures of internal body parts. With the help of CT scan, PET scan and MRI, doctor visualize internal organs and it’s condition.
In a transrectal ultrasound, a small tube of this size is inserted into the digestion system. The catheter uses sound waves to create an image of your pancreas.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
In certain situations, your doctor may recommend an MRI of the pancreas for a more detailed image. MRI images can help your doctor plan a procedure to collect tissue from the pancreas.
With the help of endoscopy, Doctors see the inside of the pancreas. A small device is inserted into the digestive system with the help of a thin flexible tube.
To determine if cancer cells are present in the pancreas, your doctor may recommend a procedure to collect a sample of pancreatic cells (pancreas biopsy). Pancreas biopsies are often done using a fine needle inserted into the pancreas to collect tissue. The tissue specimen is analyzed in the laboratory to determine the presence of cancer cells.
Doctors prescribe various protein tests as a tumor marker. It helps to understand how cancer is responding to the treatment.
Now we will see various treatments available in India for pancreatic cancer.
After diagnosis, if cancer is confirmed, the doctor tries to understand the stage of cancer in order to apply the appropriate treatment.
The lower stage of cancer indicates that cancer is just limited to the pancreas and the advanced stage indicates that it is spread outside to other body parts. The first goal always remains to eliminate cancer but when it is not possible then doctors do treatment to reduce symptoms and relieve pain.
Surgery is the option in the initial level of cancer to eliminate cancerous cells. There are various types of surgeries available as per the location of cancer in the pancreas.
1. Surgery for tumors in the head of the pancreas
For cancerous tumors in the head part of the pancreas, surgeons consider the Whipple procedure.
In the Whipple procedure, the head part of the pancreas, gallbladder, first part of the small intestine, and nearby lymph nodes are removed. The surgeon then reconnects the remaining parts of the pancreas, stomach, and intestine.
2. Surgery for tumors in the head and tail of the pancreas
The surgeon removed the left side of the tail and body of the pancreas. Sometimes, the spleen needs to be removed as well.
3. Surgery for tumors in nearby blood vessels
If nearby blood vessels are also affected, then surgeons may remove and reconstruct blood vessels.
After these surgeries, patients may feel nausea and vomiting if they face difficulty in digestion and emptying stomach.
It takes a long time to recover after surgery. Like you may need to spend several days in hospital after surgery and some weeks after that for more to recover.
It is always highly recommended to undergo these surgeries from highly experienced surgeons in this field who have done many surgeries like this.
Chemotherapy is used to eliminate cancer cells. It is used in advanced stages of cancer or after surgery to eliminate the growth of cancerous cells.
In chemotherapy, drugs are used to kill cancerous cells. It is either given orally or in vain.
Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation therapy to eliminate the recurrence of cancerous cells. or reduce cancer tumors.
In radiation therapy, a high-energy beam is used to eliminate the growth of cancer cells. It is often used before or after surgery to reduce cancer growth.
High radiation beams like x-rays and protons are used for treatment.
Nowadays protons are used to eliminate cancer cells. Proton beams cause lower side effects than traditional x-ray beams.
Supportive care is used to provide relief from pain and other symptoms. It helps to improve the quality of life of the patient.
Supportive care is combined with other treatments to help patients feel better and live longer.
Now we will see the important part.
The typical approach of doctors to treat pancreatic cancer
In this stage, many tumors are resectable, or able to be removed through surgery. The Whipple procedure is the most common pancreatic surgery which is performed in this stage.
Adjuvant treatment was also given after the surgery. If surgery is not an option, other standard treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two. Clinical trials may also provide additional options.
In this stage, your tumor may be resectable (able to be surgically removed) or borderline resectable at this stage (possibly able to be removed by surgery). Treatment varies from person to person, depending on the exact location of the cancer and whether it can be surgically removed.
Patients with pancreatic cancer that is borderline resectable may be treated before surgery. Chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these may be used. This treatment aims to shrink cancer or move it away from blood vessels so that it can be surgically removed more easily. Neoadjuvant therapy is a type of pre-surgery treatment.
If surgery is not an option, other standard treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two. Clinical trials may also provide additional options.
In this stage, Most tumors are unresectable (cannot be removed by surgery) and are treated with therapies that travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells all over the body.
Chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two are common stage III treatments. Clinical trials may also provide additional options.
Chemotherapy is usually used in stage IV treatment. Targeted therapy, radiation therapy, or a combination may also be given. Clinical trials may also provide additional options.
Which country is best for pancreatic cancer treatment?
When selecting a country for pancreatic cancer treatment, you should evaluate the following:
- Healthcare facilities and other advanced technologies are available for treatment.
- Treatment for pancreas cancer has a high success rate.
- Survival rates are also higher.
- Treatment costs and period of stay in that country.
You must consider logistical factors such as connecting flights, transportation, and safety for the chosen country in addition to the following factors.
While many of us may think of western countries when it comes to pancreas cancer treatment, India has emerged as one of the top countries that offers the best healthcare with high success and survival rates.
The availability of world-class treatment and a dedicated post-care facility has enticed many people to travel to India to have their pancreas cancer treated at a cost that is nearly half of what it would cost in developed countries.
How to choose the best hospital for pancreatic cancer treatment in India?
Choosing a hospital for cancer treatment can be difficult. When choosing a hospital for cancer treatment, make sure it is equipped with the most up-to-date cancer treatment technologies and employs a multidisciplinary approach.
Hospital should have a highly skilled team of oncologists that includes medical, surgical, and radio oncologists along with a well-trained paramedical staff to handle the complexity.
You must ensure that the hospital you choose has a dedicated unit for cancer treatment and a well-trained post-care team, in addition to selecting a hospital with world-class facilities.
Also, look into the hospital’s success and survival rates for cancer treatments.
MedicoExperts panel of hospitals has been formed with the above guidelines.
How to choose the best oncologist for your pancreatic cancer treatment in India?
For a successful outcome and higher success and survival rates, you should not rely on just one doctor. You must consult with other oncologists to get higher success and survival rates.
The tumor board approach is a new way to improve survival rates in pancreas cancer patients. Highly skilled medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists collaborate closely on the case to achieve the best possible treatment outcome.
With this tumor board approach to treating patients, MedicoExperts helps patients all over the world get the best possible treatment and survival rates.
The survival rate of pancreatic cancer depends on the stage of cancer.
The five-year survival rate of pancreas cancer in
- In localized cancer: When the tumor is only in the pancreas, the survival rate is 39%
- In regional cancer: When pancreatic cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes outside the pancreas, the survival rate is 13%
- In distant cancer: When pancreatic cancer has spread to other organs outside the pancreas, usually the liver or lung, Pancreatic cancer stage 4 survival rate is 3%
So this was all about pancreas cancer. Connect with us if you wish to know about treatments for Pancreatic cancer.
The cost for pancreas cancer treatment in India varies on the size of the tumor, stage of cancer, and also the treatment option is chosen according to the condition of the patient. A cancer evaluation will reveal the extent of the spread and the best-suited treatment to restrict and cure it. The cost for cancer evaluation starts from 500 USD (36000 INR).
After the initial evaluation, the oncologist will be able to gauge if cancer can be treated by therapy alone or if surgery is recommended. The cost for pancreas cancer surgery in India starts from 5000 USD (370000). Thanks to advancements in technology and innovation, newer and safer surgical options are also possible.
Advanced cutting-edge surgery like Whipple’s procedure is also available in India. However, it is to be noted that not every patient is eligible for this treatment option. The onco-surgeon will suggest the best-suited treatment plan based on the patient’s case.
In certain cases, surgery is also to be combined with other treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and supportive care to ensure a complete cure.
The cost of chemotherapy starts from 400 USD / cycle (29545 INR).
Whipple’s procedure cost starts from 7200 USD (531817 INR) in India
Total pancreatectomy cost starts from 5000 USD (369317 INR) in India
Radiation therapy cost starts from 3000 USD (221590 INR) in India.
Frequently Asked Questions and patient concerns:
1. Are there any early warning signs of pancreatic cancer?
When a tumor grows in an early stage , you may face jaundice, yellowish skin and eyes. Sudden weight loss is another common early symptom.
2. How do you cope with pancreatic cancer?
Pancreas cancers are treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. It depends on what stage of cancer you are having. In more advanced stages of cancer, cancer may not be completely cured but can be treated to provide relief from symptoms.
3. What age group get pancreatic cancer?
Risk of developing pancreatic cancer grows with ageing. The average age of diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is 70 years. Almost all reported patients of pancreatic cancer are older than 45 years, 66% of all patients are older than 65 years of age.
4. Is it possible to prevent pancreatic cancer?
Although most pancreatic cancer cannot be prevented, you can lower your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and limiting your alcohol consumption.
Chronic pancreatitis and a family history of the disease are also risk factors. Precancerous lesions can occasionally be detected and, if removed early enough, can prevent pancreatic cancer from developing.
5. Is a complete recovery from pancreatic cancer possible?
Yes, a complete recovery from pancreatic cancer is possible.
6. Is it possible to live without a pancreas?
Yes, you can live without a pancreas, but you will become diabetic and need to take insulin on a regular basis. You’ll also need to take enzyme supplements to aid in digestion.
7. Why is it that pancreatic cancer is usually discovered in its later stages?
Pancreatic cancers are quite often diagnosed late in their progression because they rarely cause symptoms; nearly half of all pancreatic cancers are not discovered until they have spread to other organs.
8. Is it possible for a pancreatic cyst to develop into cancer?
Pancreatic cysts are common, and the majority of them are benign. Some, however, are cancerous, while others are precancerous. Pancreatic cysts can be benign or malignant, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Benign cysts usually go away on their own after a period of time, without the need for medical intervention. However, if a cyst is discovered, it is critical to determine whether the cyst is benign or malignant and to seek treatment if necessary.
9. Is it true that breast cancer and pancreatic cancer are linked?
BRCA mutations are strongly linked to the development of breast and ovarian cancers, as many people are aware. These BRCA mutations have also been linked to pancreatic cancer.
A BRCA mutation almost doubles a person’s risk of pancreatic cancer over their lifetime. BRCA mutations are found in approximately 5% of pancreatic cancer patients.
MedicoExperts is a Global virtual hospital which is established to offer quality healthcare services at affordable pricing without compromising the success rates of the treatment. MedicoExperts is having a network of highly experienced super specialist doctors and well equipped hospitals across the globe and offering second opinion through online video consultation and surgical interventions through its empanelled super specialist doctors at its network hospitals in 17 countries from 3 continents.
By the virtue of its approach and model, MedicoExperts is successfully achieve to deliver
- Latest and most advanced treatments with success rates of international benchmarks.
- Multiple cost options depending upon the hospital facilities, with the same doctor.
- Treatment option in multiple cities/state/countries.
- Trust and peace of mind.
Most suitable for patients who are looking for:-
- Planned Surgeries and treatment from most experienced doctors and at multiple cost options as per hospital facilities with best possible outcomes.
- Second Opinion from expert doctors.
- Complex cases involving multi specialities
- International patients looking for treatment from Indian doctors