Information on Pancreatic Cancer 

The pancreas is located in the abdominal cavity behind the stomach. It produces insulin which regulates blood sugar and secretes intestinal digestive enzymes that break down food particles.

What is pancreatic cancer?

It is a disease that occurs due to malignant cell growth in the pancreatic tissues. It is rarely detected in its early stages because it does not cause symptoms until in the late stages. It is therefore advisable to get regular check- ups done especially if you have a family history of Pancreatic Cancer or Pancreatic cysts. This cancer also spreads fast to other organs surrounding it.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

One symptom that can occur in the early stage of this cancer is Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin). In the late stages however, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Loss of weight
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Itching of the skin
  • Pain in the upper abdomen or back
  • Dark urine
  • Light stool colour
  • Newly diagnosed diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
  • Enlarged gallbladder

What are the causes of Pancreatic Cancer?

The precise cause of pancreatic cancer is not known, however, the following factors may increase the chances of developing the disease:

  • Smoking tobacco or chewing tobacco
  • High intake of alcohol
  • Past radiotherapy treatment
  • If you have had cancer in the past; such as stomach cancer, mouth cancer and several others
  • Genetic factors- If your family has a history with pancreatic cancer
  • Diet- Especially red meet
  • Chronic Pancreatitis- This is the long-term inflammation of the pancreas which in most cases is caused by long term alcohol intake
  • Obesity and lack of physical activity


  • Physical examination- The doctor does this to check for any abnormalities like a mass in the abdomen or swollen lymph nodes in the neck, weight loss or Jaundice
  • Scans- Having MRI/ CT/ PET scans done to take images of the internal organs
  • Biopsy- A procedure to remove a small sample from the pancreas to check for any cancer cells using a microscope
  • Blood test to check for specific proteins that cause tumours
  • Endoscopic ultrasound- Using an ultrasound device to take images of the pancreas from inside the abdomen

Treatment options for Pancreatic Cancer

  • Surgery- This is done to eliminate the cancer when possible
  • Radiation Therapy- This treatment option uses high energy beams to kill the cancer cells in the affected area
  • Chemotherapy- Drugs that are injected into the veins or taken orally are used to kill the cancer cells
  • Chemoradiation- This is a combination of both Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy to treat cancer which has already spread to other parts of the body
  • Immunotherapy- This is a new treatment option that uses drugs to enable the body’s immune system to fight the cancer cells

Can Pancreatic Cancer be prevented?

  • There are some things that one can do to lower the risk of getting the disease:
  • Do not smoke
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit your exposure to certain chemicals that may contain known carcinogens and could be harmful to your health
  • Ensure you maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Get regular check-ups especially if your family has a history of getting pancreatic cancer

Find Out More

To find out more about IMT and the services available visit our website at or call us today on +254 0740 409 727. You can also visit our office at The Mirage, 1st Floor, Tower 2, Chiromo, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya.