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Pancreatic cancer prophylaxis and screening


Pancreatic cancer has been developing in the body for 20 years, and modern diagnostic methods do not allow a terrible disease at an early stage.

It takes almost 12 years to develop the first cancer cells in the pancreas, and another 7 years to grow them. They spread much faster - during the year. Only in the last 2-3 years the disease begins to kill a person. But tumor growth is largely dependent on the foods we consume, which either feed the cancer cells or make them starve. To prevent cancer, you need to monitor what we eat, scientists from the United States remind.

Modern diagnostic methods do not allow detecting pancreatic cancer at an early stage, when something else can be done, and practically no mention is made of methods for preventing the disease. However, there are a number of scientific papers on the prevention of pancreatic cancer. Proper nutrition is one of the main measures to prevent the development of the disease.

A paper published in 2009 indicates that consumption of meat, and especially that produced by the mass meat industry, increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. In addition, sugar and potato consumption are associated with a doubling of risk. Refried potatoes contain carcinogens, and processed sugar promotes the formation of insulin-like growth hormone, which helps cancer cells grow. In turn, fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin E, vitamin C, and potassium reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

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Severity of suffering

Pancreatic cancer ranks fifth as the cause of cancer death in the United States, in 1989 25 thousand people died from it. Since 1930, the frequency and mortality of age-related pancreatic cancers has been steadily increasing.

Insofar as primary symptoms usually non-specific and do not pay attention to them, at the time of diagnosis, about 85% of patients with symptoms already show regional and distant metastases. At this stage, the disease, as a rule, is already inoperable.

Of the 26 thousand new cases of pancreatic cancer that are diagnosed each year, only 4% survive more than three years after diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer is most common in older people (80% of cancer is 60–80 years old), blacks, smokers.

Screening Efficiency

For asymptomatic individuals, there are no reliable screening tests to detect pancreatic cancer. The deep anatomical location of the pancreas makes the detection of small localized tumors during a routine examination of the abdominal cavity unlikely.

Even in patients with significant pancreatic cancers, the epigastric mass is palpated in only 12–20% of cases. The most accurate tests to detect pancreatic cancer, such as computerized axial tomography and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, are not suitable for routine screening because they are expensive and invasive.

A non-invasive screening test, an ultrasound scan, can identify some tumors in the head of the pancreas where the cancer is easier to remove.

Although 79% sensitivity and 94% specificity are given for ultrasound, the data for most ultrasound examinations are based on symptomatic patients who already have a suspicion of a disease, i.e. they cannot be used as evidence of the effectiveness of ultrasound as a screening test for asymptomatic individuals.

In patients with pancreatic cancer, it is often noted elevated titers of serological markersincluding carcinogenic embryo antigen, carbohydrate antigen 19–9, pancreatic oncofetal antigen, tissue polypeptide antigen, inhibited leukocyte ligament, isoenzyme II galactosyl transferase and a number of other peptides and hormones.

Although studies have shown an increase in titer of serological markers in most patients with pancreatic cancer, none of the markers can be used as a suitable screening test for asymptomatic individuals.

The main reason is that most of these tests have been tested in risk groups, for example, in symptomatic patients with suspected or confirmed pancreatic cancer. Most of these tests lack the necessary sensitivity and specificity, and some serological markers detect an increased titer only when the tumor has already developed significantly.

In addition, routine screening using serological markers in asymptomatic individuals would give a large number of false-positive results, since pancreatic cancers are rare in the general population.

Studies show that 15-50% of cases of increased titer of serological markers are associated with benign gastrointestinal diseases, or with malignant neoplasms that are not related to pancreatic cancer.

Causes of Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer begins with one cell, which in the process of mutation begins to divide uncontrollably. Pancreatic cancer risk factors that can trigger a mutation:

  • somatic diseases (diabetes mellitus, gallstone disease, cirrhosis, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract),
  • detrimental lifestyle (smoking, alcohol abuse, unbalanced diet, low physical activity),
  • adverse environment (work in industrial enterprises, living in ecologically unfavorable regions),
  • heredity,
  • age over 60 years.

Early detection of pancreatic oncology

The initial stage of the development of cancer is the most accessible and effective in treatment, but the hospitalization of patients with cancer in the first stage does not even reach 8%. This is due to the fact that the early symptoms can be confused with a commonplace indigestion or symptoms of chronic pancreatitis. The current level of knowledge and the availability of innovative technologies allows you to quickly diagnose and prevent the development of terminal stages, as well as eliminate the pre-cancerous conditions preceding them.

A way to prevent the development of malignant tumors are the methods of early diagnosis:

  • annual examination and consultation of a gastroenterologist,
  • biochemical analysis of blood for enzymes and tumor markers,
  • ultrasound examination of the abdominal organs,
  • CT scan,
  • cholangiography.

Important! For people older than 50, it is imperative to undergo an annual examination by a doctor and an ultrasound scan of the abdominal organs to prevent cancer.

Pathology prevention

Ductal adenocarcinoma is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. This type of disease is characterized by aggressive growth and infiltration into neighboring organs, even in the early stages of development. According to statistics, the risk of getting sick is approximately 1: 172 per person. Moreover, the disease is characteristic of industrialized and socially developed countries. However, according to research, only 46% of people follow cancer prevention measures.

The table shows the types and methods of exposure to primary prevention:

The main factors determining the causes of cancer

Primary prevention.Means of exposure.
Carcinogenic agentsBiochemicalChemicals and compounds.

HygienicAnti-cancer education of the population, the fight against smoking, alcohol and excess weight.
PredispositionImmunologicalMaintenance and strengthening of innate and acquired immunity.
Medical geneticIdentification of people genetically predisposed to cancer.

Endocrine.Correction of dishormonal conditions and homeostasis.

The means of oncological hygiene prophylaxis are used more often than others, due to the low price and mass availability.


The presence of bad habits has a detrimental effect on health. 70% of the causes of cancer are the work of the person himself. If possible, for your own health, you should avoid:

  1. Smoking. Cigarettes containing nicatin are a direct carcinogen. Secondhand smoke is also a risk factor for cancer.
  2. Alcohol abuse. Ethyl alcohol increases the permeability of the walls of the pancreatic duct, which leads to the development of acute and chronic pancreatitis.
  3. Eating fatty foods. Fats provoke stone formation in the gallbladder.
  4. Stress. A direct relationship between the development of cancer and the presence of depression in a person, psychological trauma is proved. People of a neurotic nature, unhappy or socially isolated, are also at risk of developing a tumor.
  5. Low physical activity. According to WHO statistics, overweight people suffer from pancreatic cancer 2 times more often.

Nutrition principles

The basic principle of nutrition is the intake of balanced and healthy food. In the industrialized world, farmers' stores of natural products are becoming more and more popular, since most products of plant and animal origin are grown under the influence of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.

The table clearly shows the lists of products that increase and reduce the risk of cancer:

Completely refuseLimit in useAllowed ProductsHave the ability to destroy cancer cells
  • processed meat
  • sweet sparkling water
  • alcohol (especially beer)
  • puff pastry.

  • coffee what
  • chocolate,
  • flour products
  • bananas
  • eggs
  • White bread,
  • canned food
  • sour fruits.

  • whole wheat bread,
  • cracker,
  • soups (pumpkin, zucchini, potatoes, carrots),
  • cereals (buckwheat, rice, oatmeal),
  • greenery,
  • fresh tomatoes, carrots,
  • meat of poultry, rabbit without fat and skin,
  • minced beef
  • flax seeds,
  • low-fat fish.
  • cashew nuts (prantocyanidin),
  • flounder fish
  • broccoli (sulfonic acids),
  • chicken meat (selenium),
  • strawberries (antioxidant),
  • beets (betaine).

Since the pancreas is actively involved in the process of digesting food, it is important how many times and how much it has to produce pancreatic enzymes. In order not to overload it, it is recommended to eat in small portions no more than five times a day. The method of cooking should be either steamed or baked in the oven.

Interesting! A study in Singapore showed that if a person drinks 2 cups of sweet sparkling water every day, then the risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases by 2 times.

The role of meat products in the appearance of pancreatic cancer

Back in 2014, the World Health Organization recognized that eating processed meat in the form of sausages and sausages increases the risk of cancer by 60%. In the process of preserving meat, nitrites and nitrates are used (E 250). The preservative gives the product a pleasant pink tint, mouth-watering smell and taste. Once in the body, under the action of pancreatic juice enzymes, harmless preservatives turn into nitrosamines. The danger is that these are highly toxic compounds that have a mutagenic effect.

Attention! Preservative E 250 is prohibited for children under three years of age, since the risk of malignant tumors in an actively growing organism increases several times.

How to protect yourself from nitrosamines?

The nature of the behavior of nitrosamine free radicals in the body is unpredictable. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the amount of consumption of products that include carcinogens:

  • fried meat and fish,
  • sausage, sausages, ham,
  • salted, smoked fish,
  • pickled vegetables
  • some varieties of cheeses,
  • semi-finished products.

Before buying, carefully study the composition of the product. If you saw the preservative E 250, then you should think about the ratio of risk and benefit.

Development of antitumor immunotherapy

This young direction in the treatment of cancer is considered an experimental method, since an insufficient number of trials have been clinically conducted. The basic principle is that after the introduction of individual antibodies and cytokines into the body, the destruction of cancer cells and the development of specific immunity to tumor cells occurs. Therapy gives a chance to avoid relapse in the future. According to unofficial statistics, the likelihood of defeating the disease after immunotherapy increases by 60%.

Fact! Many cancer patients who are not helped by traditional medicine, begin to use folk recipes. But studies have shown that the actions of plant substances are individual for each organism, and the result of therapy cannot be predicted.

Timely treatment of pancreatic pathologies

Treatment of cancer patients is a complex of measures, which consists of several stages. If possible, surgical removal of the tumor, all affected tissue and nearby lymph nodes is performed. With the help of highly toxic chemotherapeutic agents, the growth and division of tumor cells is stopped. Radiation therapy can destroy all cancer cells under the influence of ionizing radiation. In addition, palliative, symptomatic, immunological, psychological therapy is carried out. Clinical studies are also being actively conducted on the effectiveness of experimental treatments.

Early Detection Efficiency

There is no convincing evidence that early detection can reduce the incidence and mortality of pancreatic cancer. At present, the 5-year survival period for localized cancer is 5%, i.e., slightly higher than for local (4%) or distant metastasis (1%).

There is some information indicating that in the case of removal of the tumor, patients live longer than those in which the cancer has passed to the final stages, however, the methodology of most works on the surgical treatment of cancer suffers from inaccuracies in the choice of patients or in the time of active monitoring of the course of the disease.

Surgical removal is performed on less than 10% of patients with pancreatic cancer, the operation is associated with a certain risk - mortality from the intervention ranges from 3 to 20%.


Primary prevention of pancreatic cancer is carried out already at the moment when doctors are trying to wean the patient from smoking - studies have shown that smoking is a significant risk factor for this disease.

Although there are no specific studies that show a direct relationship between smoking and pancreatic cancer, the doctor recommending quitting smoking has every reason to say so, since it may refer to the proven effectiveness of this measure in the fight against other malignant neoplasms (e.g. lung cancer ), with coronary artery disease and other serious lesions.