Pancreatic Cancer Test

Submitted by Medical Health Test Team on November 9, 2012

The pancreas is an important organ of the human digestive system. It is a gland type organ that functions both as an endocrine and exocrine gland. As an endocrine gland, the products of the pancreas are passed into the body's blood stream. These hormones include insulin and somatostatin. Being an exocrine gland as well, the pancreas releases another product, the pancreatic juice, into the digestive system which aids the process of digestion.

Cancer is a condition where an abnormal mass of cells begin to grow in a particular area of the human body or on a particular organ. The naming of cancer is based on the organ that it affects. The difference between a cancerous tumor and a benign tumor is that the cancerous tumor tends to be aggressive. This aggression results in a rapid growth of the tumor that may go out of control. It also results in the tumor attacking healthy cells nearby as it fights for body resources such as food and water. This attack leads to the destruction of the healthy cells. The effect of this is what actually presents itself as the symptoms of any particular cancer. Finally, when the cancer is well established, it begins to spread across the body, affecting various other parts of the body that then develop tumors themselves.

Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that affects the pancreas organ. This form of cancer has a fairly low rate of survival and is considered amongst the more deadly forms of cancer. There are many health and lifestyle related causes that are associated with pancreatic cancer. A test for pancreatic cancer may be ordered when the telltale symptom of dull abdominal pain is felt. Pain is a symptom of a moderately or highly advanced cancer which is why diagnosis is usually late and not helpful for survival. Digestive distress may also be felt if there is a failure of the digestive system based on a lack of pancreatic juice being produced. Testing for pancreatic cancer is usually based on imaging techniques. Pancreatic cancer testing is done using CT or MR scans which identify an abnormal mass on the organ. This mass may be biopsied for confirmation of cancer. There is considerable research being conducted on how to test for pancreatic cancer. The reason for this is that in many cases the cancer may be within the organ and may be visible externally only after a considerable advancement has taken place. This puts the patient at risk of not surviving a treatment because of the extent of damage caused by the cancer.

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