Posts Tagged ‘cancer diagnosis’

An Intro to Pancreatic Cancer Part II: Prevention, Diagnosis & Treatment

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

 

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Last week, we gave you an intro to Pancreatic Cancer, including statistics, information on the types of pancreatic cancer, and pancreatic cancer risk factors. As promised, this week, we’re following up with information on preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer of the pancreas.

Pancreatic Cancer Prevention

Much of the advice you’ll see for cancer prevention is similar across cancers. A few things you can do to help improve your health and fight off cancer, including pancreatic cancer, include: quitting smoking, exercising regularly, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Diagnosing Cancer of the Pancreas

Diagnosing cancer of the pancreas can involve a variety of tests and assessments. As is true in any attempt to diagnose a medical condition, a thorough evaluation of a patient’s medical history, risk factors, and symptoms is conducted. Imaging tests, including CT, MRI, PET, ultrasound, and others may be used along with potential biopsies and blood tests.

Treating Cancer of the Pancreas

There are three main modes of treatment in combating pancreatic cancer:

  1. Surgery – Parts or the entire pancreas may be removed depending on the location and stage of the pancreatic cancer. The whipple procedure can be used when the cancer is in the head of the pancreas and involves the removal of the head of the pancreas and parts of the bile ducts, small intestine, and stomach; distal pancreatectomy removes the body and tail of the pancreas and the spleen; and total pancreatectomy removes the entire pancreas, part of the small intestine, a portion of the stomach, the common bile duct, the gallbladder, the spleen, and nearby lymph nodes.
  2. Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is medication delivered to the body to eliminate cancer cells or greatly reduce their effect. It targets cells that divide rapidly, a characteristic of most cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used to support and enhance other cancer treatment modalities.
  3. Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses ionizing radiation energy to kill cancer cells and shrink cancerous tumors. Radiation therapy serves to either destroy cancerous cells or damage these cells to impede the division and growth of the cancer.

Physicians at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University specialize in these treatments, while researchers at Winship are exploring new and novel treatments for pancreatic cancer, including a number of clinical trials for pancreatic cancer treatment.

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Lung Cancer Risk Reduction via Lung CT Scans Continue to Gain Momentum

Lung CT Screening

Did you know that only 15% of lung cancer patients survive more than 5 years after their cancer has been identified? As Vicki Griffin of the Atlanta Journal Constitution puts it in a recent AJC article on lung cancer, “The bleak bottom line is that lung cancer overwhelmingly terminates lives within months of the initial diagnosis.” But as Dr. Curran of the Winship Cancer Institute reported weeks ago in a lung cancer blog post, this number could be improved. How, you ask? Through low-dose Lung CT scanning.

A recent 5 year study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is the same organization that has designated the Winship Cancer Institute as one of only 65 NCI designated cancer centers in the United States, shows that when lung adenocarcinomas are caught in earlier, more treatable stages, lung cancer death rates for those at high risk are reduced by 20%. Based on our knowledge that 157,000 people died at the hands of lung cancer in the U.S. in 2010 alone, this means last year, over 31,000 lives could have been saved.

The study evaluated over 53,000 participants at high risk for lung cancer in 25 states, including Georgia. As part of the evaluation of the effectiveness of low-dose Lung CT scans, the study compared the ability for Lung CT screenings and the currently standard chest X-ray technology to identify lung cancer early on.

Emory was a participant in the NCI sponsored study, and we conducted trials across the state of Georgia. As a result of the study’s significant findings, our teams at the Emory Clinic and Emory University Hospital Midtown are now offering current and former smokers with a significant smoking history high risk for lung cancer an opportunity to get a Lung CT scan at very reasonable rates.

Lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer in the U.S., claiming more lives than the next three most common cancer killers — prostate, breast and colorectal cancers – combined. But Lung CT screening may help with the early diagnosis and ultimately, increased survival rates, for lung cancer patients.

For more information on Lung CT scanning, or to find out if you are a candidate for screening, please visit our newly launched website dedicated to educating our community on Lung CT screening and its benefits. You can also call us for more information at 404-778-7777.