Pancreatic adenocarcinoma affects the pancreas, an important organ in the digestive system. Pancreatic cancer leads to uncontrolled growth of the cells making up the pancreatic duct (Ryan, Kong & Bardeesy, 2014). The cell growth becomes irregular and prolific in the presence of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. The mutated cells that characterize the cancer are implicated in the altered functionality of the pancreases. At the organ level, pancreatic cancer is characterized by dense stroma having proliferating myofibroblasts. There is also the deposition of collagen type I as well as other inflammatory cells including macrophages and plasma cells. The changes in the pancreas lead to adjustments in the vasculature of the organ, limitation of perfusion as well as hypoxia. Such leads to the inability of the pancreas to function normally.
Compared to normal cells of the body, cancer cells are characterized by excessive growth leading to the invasion into other cells. In normal cells, growth stops when they encounter cells of a different type. Normal body cells do not undergo metastasis. In contrast, cancer cells have metastatic capabilities. The cells can spread to other parts of the body away from the organ of origin. The rates of growth also differ between the normal cells and cancer cells. In particular, cancer cells reproduce rapidly and do not stop.
Due to the metastatic nature of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the disease has systemic effects. At advanced stages, the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body leading to the systemic adversities. Due to the unregulated growth of the cells, they may block the bile duct leading to the swelling of the gall bladder. Pancreatic cells often cause deep vein thrombosis. At times, the clots may get to the lungs causing pulmonary embolism that is characterized by breathing difficulties. Pancreatic cancer cells may also travel to the liver and cause enlargement of the organ. This may cause jaundice and abnormal functioning of the liver. Not so often, pancreatic cancers interfere with the blood sugar regulation. Specifically, the cancer destroys cells that produce insulin leading to deregulation blood sugar levels.
For pancreatic cancer that has reached the metastatic stage, chemotherapy is recommended. The regimen is effective in limiting the excessive growth of the cancer cells in the pancreas as well as inhibiting further growth and metastasis of the cells that have reached other parts of the body. Folfirinox is administered to patients. Another alternative is the administration of gemcitabine and nab-2-paclitaxel combined (Ryan et al., 2014). Besides chemotherapy, radiotherapy can also be used in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Using radiation, the molecules that account for the cancerous activities are destroyed.
Lifestyle adjustments can be useful in the prevention of pancreatic cancer. Avoiding smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are progressive towards limiting cases of pancreatic cancer. Regular exercising is essential for the management of the weight (Na & Oliynyk, 2011). Another strategy is dieting. A limit on the intake of foods rich in calories is necessary. Personally, I take more of vegetable and fruits and avoid junk food that may predispose me to excessive weight gain. Further, I engage in physical activities regularly.
The cells in pancreatic cancer exhibit similar biological characteristics to other cells in cancers of the same type. Like other cancer cells, they have faster growth. Also, the invasive nature of the cells is concurrent with other cancers, for instance, lung cancer. Additionally, the metastatic and invasive characteristic is also evident in other types of cancer.
- Na, H. K., & Oliynyk, S. (2011). Effects of physical activity on cancer prevention. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1229(1), 176-183.
- Ryan, D. P., Hong, T. S., & Bardeesy, N. (2014). Pancreatic adenocarcinoma. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(11), 1039-1049.