Where Does Your Back Hurt With Pancreatic Cancer?

Reviewed on 4/28/2021

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas which is an organ located behind the stomach.
Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas which is an organ located behind the stomach.

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas which is an organ located behind the stomach. Pancreatic cancer occurs when the normal cells mutate and grow out of control forming a tumor. Pancreatic cancer spreads quickly and has a poor prognosis because it is often detected late. One of the important symptoms of pancreatic cancer is a dull pain in the upper abdomen (near the solar plexus) and/or middle or upper back. It is probably caused by a tumor irritating the nerves in that area or pressing on the spine.

Other signs and symptoms that occur as the disease progresses include

What are the types of pancreatic cancer?

There are two types of pancreatic cancer.

  1. Exocrine pancreatic cancer
  2. Endocrine pancreatic cancer

Exocrine pancreatic cancer

It develops in the exocrine cells of the pancreas, which secrete pancreatic enzymes that aid digestion. It is the most common type of pancreatic cancer (95 percent) and affects the exocrine functions of the pancreas.

Different types of exocrine pancreatic cancer include

Endocrine pancreatic cancer

It is also called pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) or islet cell tumors. It develops in the endocrine cells of the pancreas that produce hormones that regulate metabolism and blood sugar. It is less common (5 percent) and affects the endocrine functions of the pancreas.

Endocrine pancreatic cancer is named after the hormone-producing cell where cancer begins. 

Types of endocrine tumor include

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What causes pancreatic cancer?

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown. Pancreatic cancer occurs when the cells in the pancreas develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. The mutated abnormal cells grow uncontrollably and eventually forms a tumor.

The risk of pancreatic cancer increases with the following factors.

How is pancreatic cancer treated?

Treatment options depend on the type, size, location and stage of cancer, as well as age and individual preference of the patient.

  • Surgery: Surgery may be performed in the early stage when cancer is limited to the pancreas. Surgical approaches include
    • Whipple procedure: It is also known as pancreatoduodenectomy. It is performed when cancer is present in the pancreatic head. The pancreatic head is removed surgically along with a portion of the stomach, duodenum, gallbladder, part of the bile duct and nearby lymph nodes.
    • Distal pancreatectomy: The doctor surgically removes the pancreas tail and sometimes other parts of the pancreas along with the spleen when the tumor is present in the pancreatic body and tail.
    • Total pancreatectomy: The doctor removes the entire pancreas. The patient requires lifelong insulin and enzyme replacement.
  • Radiation therapy: The doctor uses X-rays and other high-energy beams to kill the cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: The doctor uses cancer-killing drugs to destroy the cancer cells and prevent their growth. Sometimes, chemotherapy is combined with radiation therapy (chemoradiation).
  • Targeted therapy: In this, the doctor uses drugs to target specific abnormalities in the cancer cells and destroy them. These drugs do not harm the normal cells.

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What is the survival rate for pancreatic cancer?

Early diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer increase the chances of recovery.

The five-year survival rate is about

  • 34 percent if cancer is limited to the pancreas.
  • 12 percent if cancer has spread to the nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
  • 3 percent if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

What is the survival rate for pancreatic cancer?

Early diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer increase the chances of recovery.

The five-year survival rate is about

  • 34 percent if cancer is limited to the pancreas.
  • 12 percent if cancer has spread to the nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
  • 3 percent if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

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References
https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/280605-overview

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