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What is Pancreatic Cancer and Its Treatment Process? "Whipple Surgery" How to Apply?

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What is Pancreatic Cancer and How is “Whipple Surgery” Performed in the Treatment Process?

Pancreatic cancer is one of the common types of cancer. What is pancreatic cancer, what are its symptoms, what is done in the treatment? Anadolu Health Center General Surgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Süleyman Yedibela gave important information on the subject and also gave information about the “whipple technique”, one of the most difficult surgeries in the branch of general surgery…

What is pancreatic cancer and what symptoms does it show?

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive type of cancer originating from the cells that form the ducts in the pancreas. Symptoms may vary depending on the location of the tumor within the pancreas. In the majority of patients, the tumor is seen in the head of the pancreas and presents with complaints such as jaundice, itching, indigestion, weight loss and pain. Weight loss here may also result from the pressure the cancer puts on the duodenum. The pain progresses from the upper part of the abdomen to the back, almost in the form of a belt. However, at this point it should be underlined that; If painless jaundice develops, especially in the early stages, it is first thought to be cancer in the pancreas. Because when jaundice is accompanied by pain, it is mostly caused by stones in the gallbladder.

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Can pancreatic cancer spread (metastasize) to other organs?

The development of metastasis in pancreatic cancer means the fourth stage, excluding local lymph node metastases, and in this case, the chance of surgical treatment is lost. The organ where pancreatic cancer metastases most commonly develop is the liver.

What are the reasons?

The reasons are not yet fully known. However, scientific study results show that smoking and genetic tendency are among the important factors.

Who are at risk?

The risk of developing pancreatic cancer is especially higher in people who use tobacco products, men and people over the age of 65. Although the incidence of pancreatic cancer seems to have increased in terms of diagnosis today, the reason is not the increase in pancreatic cancer, but rather the increase in the average life expectancy of people.

Can it be prevented?

There is no sure way to prevent it, but a certain degree of protection can be achieved by staying away from tobacco products. In addition, sporting activities, healthy nutrition and weight control are important factors that will keep this protection strong.

What is done during the treatment process?

Unfortunately, patients with pancreatic cancer usually apply to the hospital when the cancer progresses. However, early diagnosis is possible in those who apply to the hospital in time, thanks to the complaint of jaundice seen at the beginning of cancer. The best treatment option for pancreatic cancer is surgery. In addition, options such as palliative chemotherapy or immunotherapy and radiotherapy may also come into play.

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How is “whipple surgery”, one of the most difficult techniques of general surgery, performed?

Surgical techniques may also vary depending on the region where the tumor is located. For example, in patients whose tumor is at the head of the pancreas, the “whipple” technique is used. In this technique, which is very difficult and has high complications, the last third of the stomach, duodenum, head of the pancreas, bile duct and bladder are removed. It is also important to remove the lymph nodes in these areas. Finally, the surgery is completed by reconnecting the pancreatic duct, bile duct and stomach with the small intestine.

Is Whipple a suitable technique for every patient?

The application of the technique is decided within the framework of certain criteria and by looking at the general condition of the patient. In general, some criteria should be considered to use this technique in patients with involved vessels. However, involvement of veins does not always pose an obstacle.

Can patients return to their social lives quickly after surgery?

Of course, it is a major and difficult surgery for both patients and surgeons. However, after surgeries performed by experienced teams in this field, patients can return to their normal lives within two weeks. Since a part of the pancreas is removed, patients are at risk of developing diabetes, so it is very important to inform patients about this issue. The head of the pancreas is an important region where some important enzymes are formed, and drug treatment is necessary to replace these enzymes. Since the body or tail part of the pancreas is removed and insulin is produced intensively in this area, patients will develop diabetes and therefore necessary drug treatment is not given.

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If a technique other than Whipple is used for pancreatic cancer, different restrictions may be required in the lives of patients after surgery, depending on the extent to which areas such as the pancreas or intestine are affected. Depending on the stage of the tumor, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiotherapy may also be required as additional treatment.

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