Pancreatic Tumors - Kinds, Symptoms And Treatments
The Pancreas is a small organ, near the liver which produces enzymes that help in digestion of food, and also helps to maintain the sugar levels in the body. Insulin is the hormone that decreases the level of glucose in the blood and this insulin is produced by the pancreas. When the pancreas is unable to produce right amount of insulin, sugar level increases in the body, causing diabetes. For some the pancreatic cells get comatose and they supplement insulin through injections.
Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S. The disease is slightly more common in men than in women, and risk increases with age. The cause is unknown but cigarette smoking is one of the causes. Alcohol consumption also causes increase in sugar and can damage the kidney and pancreas. There are three types of pancreatic tumors. They are:
Insulinoma: This is a rare type of pancreatic tumor that secretes insulin, which lowers the levels of sugar in the blood. Research indicates that only 10% of insulinomas are cancerous. Surgery is the only option for survival of insulinoma and 90% success rate is assured.
Gastrinoma: This is a tumor usually in the pancreas or duodenum that produces excessive levels of gastrin, which stimulates the stomach to secrete acid and enzymes, causing peptic ulcers. Gastrinomas is a cluster of tumors in or near the pancreas. About half of these tumors are cancerous. Sometimes a gastrinoma occurs as part of multiple endocrine neoplasia, a hereditary problem which is caused by the endocrine glands. Diarrhea is the first symptom for this tumor. Frequent ulcers and abdominal pain can also be the symptoms. These tumors are very small and difficult to locate. If oral medicines are not enough then surgically the stomach is removed.
Glucagonoma: This is a tumor of the pancreas that produces the hormone glucagon, which raises the level of sugar in the blood and produces a distinctive rash. About 80% of glucagonomas are cancerous. However, they grow slowly, and many people survive for a long time after deducting this tumor. This mostly occurs only in women after the age of 50. There is a very rare tumor of the pancreas that arises from a cell in the pancreas, known as the islet cell. These islet cells produce insulin and other hormones. It is very rare for these islet cells to get cancerous and there is no cure for this tumor. Normally this tumor is operated and removed surgically but if it has spread like cancer then chemotherapy is an alternative. Chemotherapy may lessen the symptoms but is not a cure for this tumor.