Pancreatic cancer symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment gas constant for helium

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Imaging studies are the mainstay of diagnosis, especially CT scans designed to look for pancreatic cancer (pancreatic protocol CT). Regular abdominal ultrasounds may be helpful for ruling out other abdominal problems but are limited in diagnosing pancreatic cancer due to gas in the intestines.

Instead, endoscopic ultrasound—in which a tube with an ultrasound tip is placed through the mouth and threaded down into the lower part of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine—can be a helpful tool. Other imaging tests that are sometimes used include ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) and MRI.

For early-stage cancers, especially those in the head of the pancreas, surgery offers a chance to cure the disease. Unfortunately, only 15 to 20 percent of people are candidates for surgery (for the remainder, the cancer has spread too far for surgery to improve survival).

The most common procedure performed is known as the Whipple procedure and involves removing the head of the pancreas, the common bile duct, part of the stomach, part of the small intestine, the spleen, and nearby lymph nodes. There are variations on the procedure, including surgery that removes the entire pancreas, but this is performed less often. These are very major surgeries, and making sure that surgery is feasible (such as with a laparoscopic biopsy and other tests) is imperative.

If you or your loved one are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, take some time to learn about your disease and take an active part in your care as your own advocate. Doing so not only helps reduce anxiety but might make a difference in outcomes for some people as well.

• Talk to your oncologist about any clinical trials that may be a fit for you, or consider checking out one of the free clinical trial matching services that provide nurse navigators who can match your particular situation to clinical trials happening anywhere in the world.

Some people also find it helpful to become involved in a support group. If such a group isn’t available in your area, which may be the case as pancreatic cancer is relatively uncommon, online support communities may be a good way to find others who are facing the same challenges you are.

Reach out to family and friends and allow them to help you cope. Many cancer centers also offer options for emotional support, ranging from cancer counseling to palliative care teams who address the whole person, body, mind, and soul. Take advantage of any of these options you believe would help. Sometimes the bravest thing people can do is admit that they need extra help and support.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, or you think that you may have the symptoms, there’s no doubt that you may be very concerned. Pancreatic cancer has a reputation that most are aware of. Yet just as treatments are improving for other cancers, progress is being made for this disease, too. Some large medical centers are now doing surgery for cancers that were previously considered inoperable. And even with advanced disease, newer treatments such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy may be changing the face of pancreatic cancer, as they have with some other cancers.

Even though treatments aren’t what we wish for them to be today, oncology has come a very long way in managing the symptoms and concerns related to cancer so that people can get the most from their time with family and friends no matter how much time is left.