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    Overview of Pancreatic Cancer
    By Anirudha Lakshmin... | November 7th 2012 12:55 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Anirudha

    Hello, I am a PhD graduate from molecular genetics laboratory, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay. I am presently working for a Biotech...

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        Pancreas is an organ situated between the stomach and the backbone. Pancreas secretes juices into the first part of the small intensitne and thereby helps in the digestion of food. Addionally, Islet cells of the pancreas secrete the hormone insulin into the blood stream therby playing a major role in glucose homoeostasis. 

        Cancer refers to abnormal and uncontrolled proliferation of normal cells that results in the formation of a localized primary tumor. In some cases these primary tumor cells detatch themselves from the tumor, enter the circulation and migrate to other tissues, a process called metastasis. Transformation of a normal cell into a cancerous cell can be due to complex mechanisms including alterations in gene expression, incorporation of multiple mutations resulting in altering the switches of signalling cascades and immortality. 


        Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cencer related deaths in USA. As it is diagnozed at a late stage the survival rate of patients is quiet low as compared to other cancers. Incidence and mortality rates are higher in certain ethnic groups in USA in a study by NCI (National cancer Institute).  Smoking predisposes individuals to Pancreatic cancer, 20% of the cases reported are due to smoking. Other factors include diabetes, enlarged spleen and other Heriditary factors. 

    Treatments includes
    1. Surgical removal of tumors
    2. Radiotherapy
    3. Chemotherapy
    4. Targeted therapy


    Presently, outcome of three clinical trials include the following

    1. Gemcitabine improves survival of pateients post surgery
    2. Chemotherapy improves the survival in advanced stage patients
    3. Targeted therapy - Sunitinib and everolimus

    Therefore, identification of Pancreatic cancer at an early stage  followed by Targeted therapy [Identification of new targets] is the path forward to deal with this cancer.

    Ref: National Cancer Institute