Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer has been called a "silent" disease because early pancreatic cancer usually does not cause symptoms.
The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach and in front of the spine. It produces digestive juices and hormones that regulate blood sugar. Cells called exocrine pancreas cells produce the digestive juices, while cells called endocrine pancreas cells produce the hormones. The majority of pancreatic cancers start in the exocrine cells.
At the time of diagnosis, only about 20% of pancreatic tumors can be removed by surgery. When the tumor is confined to the pancreas but cannot be removed, a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be recommended.
The liver is the largest organ inside the body. It filters harmful substances from the blood, digests fats from food and stores the sugar that your body uses for energy. Liver cancer, also know as hepatocellular carcinoma, is the fifth most common cancer in the world.
The cause of liver cancer is usually scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). Cirrhosis may be caused by:
- Alcohol abuse (the most common cause in the U.S.)
- Certain autoimmune diseases of the liver
- Diseases that cause long-term swelling and irritation (chronic inflammation) of the liver
- Hepatitis B and C
- Too much iron in the body
Patients with Hepatitis B or C are at risk for liver cancer, even if they do not have cirrhosis.
Aggressive surgery or a liver transplant may successfully treat small or slow-growing tumors if they are diagnosed early. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are not usually effective. However, they may be used to shrink large tumors so that surgery has a greater chance of success.
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Learn more about Pancreatic/Liver Cancer.
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