Pancreatic cancer is a very severe disease which can have life-threatening complications. It comes on the 4th spot among cancers that has been cause of deaths in recent times. However, it is not mandatory that a person having pancreatic cancer will have such complications; there are treatments available which can heal the person in the initial stages. Like above mentioned example, there are many misconceptions about pancreatic cancer which need to be busted in order to know the truth behind them. To help us understand the myths and facts, we spoke to Dr. Srinivas Kumar, Radiation oncologist in Francis Super Speciality Hospital, Kochi.
Myths And Facts About Pancreatic Cancer
Myth-1 Pancreatic Cancer Cannot be Treated
One of the biggest myths about most of the cancer diseases is that it cannot be treated. This is false, pancreatic cancer is a fatal disease but can be treated in the initial stages. This disease is divided into 3 major stages and people getting this disease can be treated in the first two with help of combination of treatment methods.
The first stage of pancreatic cancer is very operable and can be treated with surgical option. The second stage of cancer needs surgery as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It is only the last stage which is tricky and fatalities happen mostly in those stages. Even then with help of treatments available, the rate of survival can be increased.
Myth-2 Pancreatic Cancer happens in Older Age
Well this is partially true. The fact is that majority of cases of pancreatic cancer are determined after the age of 65 years of so but it can happen in younger people also. There have been numerous incidents where pancreatic cancer was present in patients of 30-40 years of age as well. The reason behind this is that genetic mutations of parents can be transferred in their children, hence it raises the possibility of having this type of cancer in early ages as well.
Myth-3 Pancreatic Cancer causes severe pain
There are many people who believe that every patient suffering from pancreatic cancer gets terrible pain. However this is not true. Only 50% of total people getting pancreatic cancer may experience severe pain whereas other it is a passing pain which comes and goes. Pain can only occur when the tumour has injured the nerves present in the area that presses the nerves causing painful impact. Hence this is also false statement about pancreatic cancer.
Myth-4 It is a fast progressive disease
This means that pancreatic cancer can spread in your body very easily and in less time interval. But it is not true. On the contrary, pancreatic cancer takes several years to develop into serious disease and takes around 2 years for the cancer cells to spread in other organs. Therefore the chance of detection of cancer is lower than other types of cancers. In many cases people do not even know they have pancreatic cancer for a very long time. This happens in the case when the cancer cells do not press the biliary tract and hence does not cause jaundice or pain in the nerves, it becomes very hard to locate tumour.
Myth-5 Medicinal Herbs can Benefit Pancreatic Cancer patients
No, they do not. Often than not people believe that these medicinal herbs such as turmeric, cumin, wheat syrup and other herbs can be beneficial in pancreatic cancer which is not true. According to oncologist, people should not seek treatment in these herbs as they cannot heal cancer. Yes, these herbs have tendency to build better immunity in the body but it has nothing much to do with actual treatment and spread of pancreatic cancer. If you are looking to treat this cancer by herbal treatment and rely on them, then it can further spread your cancer to other organs because of delaying of proper treatment.
Myth-6 Pancreatic Cancer Always Causes Jaundice
This is also not true, pancreatic cancer patients may not always have jaundice as necessary symptom. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer depend on the location of tumour that has affected the pancreatic gland. According to studies, if the tumour affects the head part of pancreas, then it is more likely to have jaundice whereas it does happen so in other two parts. Jaundice occurs in pancreas due to pressure exerted on bile ducts but in many cases, it does not put pressure on that area, which as a result does not cause jaundice in the person. But it does not mean that there won’t be other complications, the cancer is still as severe as any other time.
Myth-7 Pancreatic cancer always leads to Diabetes
False, no pancreatic cancer does not always have to happen diabetes as a by product. Similar with the case with jaundice, diabetes can be an important symptom for pancreatic cancer but it does not always occur. There have been many cases in which people have got stage-3 of pancreatic cancer or have even got treated with this cancer without having diabetes. Diabetes occurs as a result of inability of pancreas to secrete adequate insulin levels in the body. Sometimes, the whole pancreas does not need to be surgically removed, especially in first stage of pancreatic cancer. Hence this is also a myth and person should get diagnosed properly before getting onto any decision.
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