Pancreatic Cancer Specialists in Tacoma, WA
Cancer of the pancreas typically develops as a result of mutated cell growth within the organ’s tissue, which is often related to the progression of common pancreatic diseases such as pancreatitis.
The Role of the Pancreas
The pancreas is an organ responsible for aiding in the body’s digestive processes by producing enzymes that are deposited into the gastrointestinal tract, which help to break down the food we eat. The pancreas also supplies the body with hormones needed to control an individual’s blood-sugar levels (also known as glucose levels).
Clearly, any dysfunction in these processes can cause significant damage to the entire body. This makes early detection and treatment of any pancreatic diseases or disorders incredibly important.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Symptoms of this condition are typically rather vague and nonspecific, but can include:
- Jaundice (developing a yellow hue to the eyes and/or skin)
- Pain within the upper abdomen
- Sudden weight loss
- Back pain
- Recent-onset diabetes
- Loss of appetite
Because it is rare for symptoms of pancreatic cancer to appear until the disease has developed considerably over time, routine screenings and examinations are a vital part of detecting this deadly condition. If you begin to notice any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, be sure to schedule a consultation with our officeimmediately.
Knowing Your Risk Factors
In addition to remaining vigilant of abnormal symptoms, it is also beneficial to be aware if you are at an increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer at some point in your life. While these risks do not guarantee a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, they have proven to greatly influence an individual’s odds of encountering the disease.
These risk factors include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a family history of pancreatic cancer, or genetic mutations that increase your general risk for cancer (BRCA2 gene mutation)
- Being a smoker
- Having diabetes
- Being of an older age (a majority of pancreatic cancer cases occur in adults age 65 and up)
- Being diagnosed with pancreatitis
Seeking Treatment in Washington State
Types of Pancreatic Cancer
Once various blood tests and biopsies are performed to determine if pancreatic cancer is indeed present, it is necessary to identify the particular type that the patient is dealing with. This classification helps the care team at Northwest Medical Specialties put together a detailed treatment plan designed specifically for that patient and their case of pancreatic cancer.
The type of treatment recommended by our office will depend heavily on whether the cancerous tumor found on the pancreas is exocrine or neuroendocrine. A large majority of pancreatic cancers are the result of an exocrine tumor, which often develop very quickly and require more drastic treatment methods. Neuroendocrine tumors on the other hand are more likely to develop slowly over time, though they should still be treated as soon as possible to limit the potential harm they can inflict on the patient’s body.
In addition to the type of pancreatic cancer, it is also important for our specialists to determine the stage of this disease before they will be able to proceed with a course of treatment. The further the staging of the cancer, the more difficult the treatment will likely be. The patient’s overall health is also a considerable factor into what types of treatment may be best for them.
Getting Answers from Northwest Medical Specialties
A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is overwhelming in many ways, which is why it is so helpful to have an entire team of trained professionals to offer their advice and expertise regarding your next steps in fighting this disease.
To schedule a consultation with the specialists of Northwest Medical Specialties, please call (253)428-8700 today!