Irving, TX – Pancreatic cancer is caused by gene changes in the pancreas cells. The inherited changes in p16, BRCA2, and the genes that cause Lynch Syndrome increase one's risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Over many years, the disease develops in steps known as PanIN or intraepithelial neoplasia, where genes and the pancreas duct cells slowly and gradually become abnormal. The pancreas contains exocrine cells that form exocrine glands that secrete digestive enzymes, and endocrine cells include islets that secrete insulin and glucagon.
“Pancreatic tumors can be neuroendocrine (endocrine) or exocrine tumors according to the cells the tumor develops from,” explained Dr. Echt. “It is crucial to know the type of tumor you have because each type behaves and responds differently to various treatments. Your doctor will perform molecular filing to know your tumor’s biology.”
Here are the two types of pancreatic cancer:
• Exocrine pancreatic cancer – It is the most common type of pancreatic cancer that forms in the pancreas duct. The treatment for such tumors depends on the stage of growth. About 95% of all the exocrine pancreatic cancers are adenocarcinomas. Sometimes they develop from cells that secrete pancreatic enzymes, and they are called acinar cell carcinomas. Ampullary cancer blocks the bile duct, causing a pile-up of bile in the body and leads to jaundice. This type of pancreatic cancer can be diagnosed early and has a better prognosis. The other types of exocrine cancer that are less common include squamous cell carcinomas, signet cell carcinomas, adenosquamous carcinomas, and more.
• Pancreatic endocrine tumors (neuroendocrine tumors) – Referred to as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), these tumors are not common, and they make less than 5% of all the pancreatic cancers. They can be malignant or benign and can only become cancer when they've spread outside the pancreas. The NETs consist of hormones released into the bloodstream and cause symptoms. Each NET is named according to the type of hormone made by the tumor cells. Gastrinomas come from the cells that secrete gastrin, and almost half of them are cancers. Insulinomas come from insulin-making cells, and they are usually benign. Glucagonomas are usually malignant, and they come from insulin-secreting cells. Somatostatinomas are cancerous, and they originate from cells that make somatostatin. VIPomas and PPomas come from the cells that create vasoactive intestinal peptide and pancreatic polypeptide respectively, and they both are cancerous. Most of the functioning NETs are insulinomas or gastrinomas, and the other types are rare. Non-functioning NETs do not make excess hormones that can cause symptoms, and they are usually found when they are large and already become cancerous.
“The treatment of pancreatic cancer is different for every patient,” continued Dr.Echt. “The doctors will properly diagnose and stage your disease and develop a treatment plan that suits your specific type of pancreatic cancer.”
About The Sandler-Kenner Foundation
The Sandler-Kenner Foundation, established in 2007 as the Las Colinas Cancer Center Foundation, was renamed in early 2011 in the memory of Michael Sandler and Peter Kenner, both of whom passed away from pancreatic cancer, a lethal disease that is difficult to diagnose until it has reached an advanced stage.
Visit them at https://helpfightpancreaticcancer.org/about-us/foundation-leadership/board-members/ to know more.