The pancreas is a large, pear-shaped organ that is part of the digestive tract. It sits high in the abdomen, behind the stomach, and joins to the common bile duct. The main function of the pancreas is to create digestive juices that help to digest food.
A secondary function of the pancreas is the secretion of hormones including insulin and glucagon, whose function is to control sugar levels in the blood.
When pancreatic cells change or begin to behave abnormally, tumors can begin to grow. Some tumors are non-cancerous, and some can become precancerous. In some cases, these precancerous cells can turn into pancreatic cancer.
The pancreatic duct is the most common place for pancreatic cancer to start, with 95 percent of pancreatic cancers starting here. This cancer is called ductal adenocarcinomas. The remainder of cases starts in the acinar cells that release digestive enzymes. This type of cancer is called exocrine pancreatic cancer.
Causes & Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Scientists are unsure what the cause of pancreatic cancer is, though there are accepted risk factors.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:using tobacco
- using tobacco
- chronic pancreatitis
- a diet high in fat and animal protein
- family history
- genetic conditions
Other possible risk factors include:
- h pylori infection
- Hepatitis B virus
- exposure to pesticides
The early stages of pancreatic cancer, most often, do not cause any symptoms. When the tumor grows large enough to invade surrounding tissue, symptoms can appear. Some of these symptoms can be caused by things other than pancreatic cancer, so it is important to visit your physician for a proper diagnosis.
Recognizing the symptoms of pancreatic cancer can help with early diagnosis.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
- abdomen pain
- back pain
- dark urine
- greasy, light-colored stool
- weight loss
- poor appetite / nausea
- bloating / gas
Other symptoms include:
- edema in legs
- diabetes / high blood sugar
Who Gets Pancreatic Cancer
Men are slightly more at risk of developing pancreatic cancer than women. African American people have a slightly higher risk than caucasian people. A higher risk is also associated with people with a family history of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer usually presents after 50 years of age.
Prognosis if You Have Pancreatic Cancer
Unfortunately, over 50% of pancreatic cancer cases are found in the late stages. Further, pancreatic cancer is known to return even after being completely removed with surgery, and it also has a low response rate to most conventional cancer treatments.
5-year survival rates for pancreatic cancer:
- Stage I / II — 27 percent
- Stage III / IV — 2 percent
Conventional medicine’s main types of treatment for Pancreatic Cancer include:
- Radiation therapy
- Palliative therapy
Immune System Health
A healthy immune system remains your body's best defense. Not only is a weak immune system a major reason patients have cancer — and cancer itself can further weaken the immune system.
Beta glucans help regulate the immune system, making it more efficient. In addition, beta glucans stimulate white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumors or viruses and release chemicals to destroy it.
Beta Glucan has been approved in Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan as an immunoadjuvant therapy for cancer. In fact, helping with cancer is just the beginning with Beta Glucan. There have thousands of studies showing the product can protect against infections, lower your cholesterol, lower blood sugar, reduce stress, increase your antibody production, heal wounds, help radiation burns, overcome mercury-induced immunosuppression (like Thimerosal, used as a preservative in vaccines), help with diabetes, and even naturally prevent metastasisThe spread of cancer cells from the place where they first formed to another part of the body. In metastasis, cancer cells break away from the original (primary) tumor, travel through the blood or lymph system, and form a new tumor in other organs or tissues of the body. The new, metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are breast cancer cells, not lung cancer cells. (or the spreading of your cancer).
Harvard Medical School suggests following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy:
- Don't smoke.
- Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control your blood pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.
More Information: Building the Immune System
Your diet plays a role in a healthy immune system. The top vitamins your immune system needs to perform include:
- Vitamin C — helps to repair and regenerate tissues and aids in the absorption of iron
- Vitamin E — a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection
- Vitamin B6 — supports adrenal function and is necessary for key metabolic processes
- Vitamin A — aids immune function and helps provide a barrier against infections
- Vitamin D — modulates cell growth, promotes neuromuscular and immune function, and reduces inflammation
- Folate — key in development of red blood cells (a lack of Folate can make the body susceptible to cancer)
- Iron — helps your body carry oxygen to cells
- Selenium — slows the body's overactive responses to certain aggressive forms of cancer
- Zinc — slows the immune response and control inflammation in your body
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research Society, Canadian Cancer Society