What is liver disease? What is pancreatic cancer? What are liver tumors

How do I get treatment?

For further information and appointments please see the below contact numbers:

For Mr Rob Hutchins:

020 7234 2940

For the following Consultants:

020 7234 2730

Professor Nigel Heaton
Mr Parthi Srinivasan
Mr Andreas A. Prachalias
Dr Phil M. Harrison
Dr Michael Heneghan

Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer London

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a malignant growth or tumour within the pancreatic organ. In the vast majority of patients, their pancreatic tumour is found to be an adenocarcinoma (originates in glandular tissue). However, on rare occasions, both benign and malignant tumours can be found, together with other benign conditions such as “pancreatitis” which may well mimic the symptoms and x-ray appearances of pancreatic cancer.

This is now the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK, with around 7000 new patients diagnosed every year in this country alone. Left untreated, pancreatic cancers tend to grow and affect neighbouring organs and blood vessels. Cancer cells can also enter both blood and lymphatic vessels and spread to other organs within the body such as the bones or lungs.

It is common in older people, generally occurring in people aged 65-75 years, but it can occur in much younger individuals. It is slightly more common in males, and in black people. Some researchers have suggested an increased risk of this disease in diabetics.

There are other certain risk factors which may increase the likelihood of a patient developing pancreatic cancer, for example:

  • A history of Pancreatic Stone Disease
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking

Certain genetic factors and medical conditions can also increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer:

  • 5-10% of patients with pancreatic cancer have a family history of the disease. (If one has two first-degree relatives (parent, sibling, offspring) with this cancer, one is at a higher risk of getting this disease, compared to the average population.)
  • There are some rare conditions associated with pancreatic cancer. Generally people already know of these conditions before being diagnosed with pancreatic tumours. (Examples are HNPCC, Ataxia telangiectasia, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, Familial breast cancer and Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma. Some rare high-risk families may have a mutation of the BRCA2 gene.
  • The condition hereditary pancreatitis can increase the risk of cancer significantly (70-100 fold increased risk compared to the average). Most of these patients present with their pancreatitis as children or teenagers. Patients with chronic pancreatitis are at a 15-25 fold increased risk.

Most pancreatic cancers are adenocarcinomas arising from the glandular lining of the pancreas. The pancreas is divided into a head, neck, body and tail. Over 75% of cancers present in the head of the gland. There are other tumours which can arise in the vicinity of the pancreatic head. These are much rarer than pancreatic cancer and, although the surgical treatment is often identical, there are subtle differences in the chemotherapy regimes for these tumours and their outlook may be very different.

It is important to ask your clinician exactly what your condition is, as internet searches will generally give information on pancreatic cancer and may give you an incorrect prognosis of your problem.

Other tumours that can arise here are cancers of the lower end of the bile duct (cholangiocarcinoma), and cancers of the ampulla (that point in the bowel where the bile duct and pancreatic duct empty) and duodenal cancers (the first part of the bowel after the stomach which wraps around the pancreas). They make up about 5% of tumours in this area – so called peri-ampullary cancers. Adenomas (benign tumours) of the ampulla show up at endoscopy as polyps. They can harbour areas of invasive carcinoma and are thought to be pre-cancerous; the larger the adenoma, the greater the risk. Biopsies taken at endoscopy may not always include the malignant focus.

Endoscopic surveillance, endoscopic resection or even surgical removal should be considered, and the entire lump should be carefully examined by the pathologist. Patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), an inherited condition, can present with multiple duodenal polyps.

Pancreatic cancer has a nasty habit of growing silently and showing itself when it has already gone past the operable stage. Only about 10-20% of patients with pancreatic cancer are amenable to surgical removal of the tumour.