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Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreas lies deep within the abdomen and secrete enzymes that are vital to digestion. Hormones secreted by the pancreas aid in maintaining sugar levels in the body. Pancreatic cancer is a condition where there is a malignant tumor, mostly found in the exocrine portion of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is not easily detectable in the early stages. Besides, it spreads rapidly and can metastasize to other organs such as bile duct, duodenum (small intestine), spleen, colon, adrenal gland, kidney, or vertebra.

Typical symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer are loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and weight loss. The patient is likely to suffer from back pain and complain of tiredness and fatigue. Pancreatic cancer may result in blood clots and liver dysfunction. The abdominal pain associated with pancreatic cancer is likely to radiate to the upper and middle back. There may be yellowing of the skin since most persons suffering from cancer of the pancreas tend to develop jaundice. In advanced stages of pancreatic cancer, there is considerable accumulation of bile acids in the skin leading to severe itching.

Some people have a hereditary genetic predisposition to cancer while there are certain factors that increase the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer.

  • High fat diet consisting largely of animal fat and lesser vegetables and fruits
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Blood test for serum bilirubin will show high bile pigment. Abdominal ultrasound and abdominal MRI aids in diagnosing the extent of tumor in the pancreas. ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) is a procedure that allows a physician to observe the common bile duct and pancreatic ducts. A pancreatic biopsy can help understand the kind of tumor in the pancreas. Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple procedure) involves surgical removal of the pancreatic tumor. This surgical procedure is conducted on patients whose tumors are located in the head of the pancreas or regions adjacent to it. Surgery may involve removal of a section or the entire pancreas. A combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy is given to those patients whose tumor is not removed.

Abdominal MRI

Abdominal MRI is used to detect any abdominal growths. It is a non-invasive procedure that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to produce pictures of the inside of the abdomen. Abdominal MRI can distinguish tumors and other lesions from normal tissues. It also provides information to determine the size, extent and spread of abdominal tumors. For patients who cannot receive iodinated contrast dye and in whom angiography has to be avoided, abdominal MRI is used. Abdominal MRI reveals several of disorders that includes renal vein thrombosis, renal arterial obstruction, kidney enlargement, inflammation of the kidney, acute tubular necrosis, tissue damage in kidneys, pancreatic cancer, adrenal masses, mass of the gall bladder, obstruction in liver, enlarged spleen, distended gall bladder or bile duct, abscess, hemangiomas and other abnormal abdominal conditions.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) represents a breakthrough in medical diagnostics and research. Nearly 60 million investigations with MRI are performed every year worldwide. This imaging technique was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 2003. MRI has been used since the beginning of 1980s. MRI is primarily used in medical settings to produce high quality images of the inside of the human body. Magnetic field of radio waves energy is used to capture pictures of organs and structures inside the body. The MRI scan used magnetic and radio waves and therefore there is no exposure as in X rays or any other damaging forms of radiation. Since radiation is not used, the procedure can be repeated without problems.

MRI is used to examine the joints, spine and the soft parts of the human body such as liver, kidneys and spleen. An MRI scan is used in the diagnosis of Diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal gas, chronic pain, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, Cardiomyopathy, Devic's syndrome and headaches in children. It is used in to study specific conditions such as:

  • Trauma to the brain, bleeding and swelling in the head
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Tumors or inflammation of the spine
  • Trauma of the spinal cord
  • Problems of vertebrae or intervertebral discs of the spine
  • Tears and aneurysms in the structure of heart and aorta
  • Information on glands and organs in the abdomen
  • Structure of joints, soft tissues and bones of the body
  • To direct surgery or to defer surgery.

During a MRI Scanning procedure, patient is made to lie in a closed area inside a magnetic field. This creates claustrophobic sensation in certain patients during the procedure. Normally a mild sedative is given prior to the MRI scan and this helps to alleviate the claustrophobic sensation. The new open MRI is open on three sides and this helps to alleviate the feeling of claustrophobia. The new open MRI scanner provides quality imaging with highest performance specifications with a powerful and stronger magnet. Scanning is also done much faster. It has the ability to detect diseases more accurately.

Tags: #Pancreatic Cancer #Abdominal MRI #MRI
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: May 25, 2024