Ronald Wolf, M.D., liver and pancreatic surgeon, Complex Pancreatic & Liver Cancer Program, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 55,440 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and approximately 42,220 will be diagnosed with liver cancer in 2018.
Pancreatic cancer forms in the tissue of the pancreas, an organ in the digestive system located in the abdomen. Endocrine cells in the pancreas create enzymes used to digest fats and proteins, and exocrine glands create insulin and hormones to help balance the amount of sugar in the blood. Cancer is more common in the exocrine cells and most tumors in this area are called adenocarcinomas.
Pancreatic and liver cancers are often hard to find, which results in late detection. Often times, because it’s found in a later stage, pancreatic cancer may have already spread to the liver.
However, there are several types of liver cancer:
You are at a greater risk for pancreatic cancer risk if you:
The cause of most cases of pancreatic cancer is unknown. Maintaining a healthy weight and diet, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking is recommended.
You are at a greater risk for liver cancer risk if you:
In many cases, the cause of liver cancer is unknown. By avoiding hepatitis infections, moldy grains, limiting alcohol use and not smoking you can help reduce your risk for liver cancer.
While other cancers affecting the digestive system, such as colorectal cancer, have a standard diagnostic screening, pancreatic and liver cancer do not. It’s important to pay attention to your body and talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following signs.
The MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute has a Complex Pancreatic & Liver Cancer Program that provides advanced diagnostic and treatment options for patients with pancreatic or liver cancer, including interventional endoscopy, which is an advanced level of gastrointestinal diagnostic and therapeutic care that focuses on providing patients with safe and effective alternatives to invasive diagnostic testing or surgery.
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