Joanne | gutCARE

Can Your Abdominal Pain During COVID-19 Be Caused By Stress?

can-your-abdominal-pain-during-covid-19-be-caused-by-stress-thumbnail.jpg

January 7, 2021 Blog

Have you been experiencing more abdominal pain during the COVID-19 pandemic? There is a scientific reason – it might be stress!

With the constant news coverage on the number of infected patients, death counts, and businesses shutting down, there is no doubt that everybody is feeling stressed out. Perhaps, it is even safe to say that almost no one is immune to the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.

The stress can affect one’s mental and emotional health, as well as take a toll on their body physically. On the note of digestive health, stress can trigger contractions in the gastrointestinal tract which could lead to stress-related digestive symptoms such as nausea, heartburn, and stomach pain.

Why does stress cause stomach pain?
When a person is stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol into the bloodstream. This causes a fight-or-flight response and, amongst other effects, can directly trigger abdominal discomfort, or other symptoms such as stomach cramps, constipation, and nausea.

Cortisol levels are meant to rise in the morning and decrease throughout the day. This hormone’s purpose is to maintain blood sugar levels to keep the brain and muscle functioning and suppress non-vital systems like digestion. But, when triggered by stress, the cortisol levels that spiked can take hours to dissipate. If the stress is continuous and the levels do not drop, it could lead to malfunctions in the body and an increased risk of inflammation, infections, and illnesses.

Aside from the direct results of cortisol, our reaction to stress can also indirectly contribute to poor digestive health. For example, some people experiencing chronic stress may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like overeating, consuming unhealthy foods, smoking, or drinking alcohol. These new habits can cause stomach discomfort or other gastrointestinal health issues.

How to soothe my abdominal pain?
If you are experiencing abdominal pain, there are a few home remedies you can try. They include:

  • Heat: Warming your stomach with a heat pack can help the muscles to relax and reduce stomach pain. You can also use a hot water bottle and apply it to your stomach for 20 minutes or until it goes cool.
  • Medication: There are over-the-counter medications available at the pharmacy that can help alleviate stomach pain. Be sure to consult the pharmacist and follow the instructions indicated for the given medication.
  • Herbal tea: Some teas have a calming effect that may help your stomach feel better. You can try ginger, chamomile, or peppermint tea.
  • Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol: Smoking can irritate the throat and increase the likelihood of an upset stomach. Alcohol is hard to digest and can cause damage to the liver and stomach lining. It is best to avoid these when you are experiencing abdominal pain.

Conclusion
When you experience stomach or gastrointestinal discomfort, it would be best to visit your doctor to find out the cause of your symptoms. In some cases, your doctor might refer you to a gastroenterologist for further diagnostic tests. Besides stress, some stomach problems can also be a sign of other medical issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and pancreatic cancer.

If the reason behind your abdominal pain turns out to be stress, a few simple things you can do to overcome stress include exercising regularly, staying socially connected to friends and family, and also meditation or yoga to ease tension!


The-Different-Stages-Of-Pancreatic-Cancer-Their-Treatments-thumbnail.jpg

December 31, 2020 Blog

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas, an organ that lies behind the lower part of your stomach. The pancreas produces enzymes that the body needs for digesting fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It also produces hormones that regulates the body’s blood sugar levels. Often, the cancer does not cause any symptoms until later stages, which is precisely why many refer to pancreatic cancer as the ‘silent killer’.

When diagnosing pancreatic cancer, the doctor determines how advanced the cancer is by observing how big the cancer tumour has grown, and whether these cells have spread beyond the pancreas. This process, called staging, helps to categorise how severe the cancer is and guide the choice of treatments. There are some occasions where the doctors can only identify the stage of the cancer by performing surgery.

Here is what you need to know about the different stages of pancreatic cancer.

Stage 1
Initially, the tumours only exist in the pancreas and can usually be removed by surgery. After surgery, there is a possibility that small cancer cells may remain in the body. Therefore, doctors would recommend patients to get treatments such as chemotherapy even after surgery to prevent these cancer cells from spreading or forming new tumours.

Stage 2
At this stage, the tumours have spread to nearby abdominal tissues and lymph nodes. It is still possible to remove the tumour by surgery. Those with borderline resectable pancreatic cancer may undergo treatments such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or radiation therapy to shrink the tumour before surgery.

Stage 3
During stage 3, the tumour has spread to major blood vessels and lymph nodes. Most of the time, stage 3 tumours cannot be removed by surgery. Some of the symptoms pancreatic cancer patients experience at this stage are pain in the back, pain in the upper abdomen, and loss of appetite.

While stage 3 pancreatic cancer can be difficult to cure, there are treatments to reduce the chances of the cancer further spreading and ease the symptoms. The treatments include surgery to remove part of the pancreas, anti-cancer drugs, and radiation therapy. It is common to have a recurrence during this stage of cancer due to tiny areas of undetectable cancer growth.

Stage 4
Pancreatic cancer is categorised under stage 4 when cancer cells have spread to other organs, such as the liver, brain, or lungs. Many times, pancreatic cancer is only diagnosed during the later stage as there are rarely symptoms until it has spread to other organs. Some of the symptoms a person might experience during this stage include pain in the upper abdomen, bloated stomach, pale stools, loss of appetite, or jaundice.

While no treatments as of yet have been successful in curing stage 4 pancreatic cancer, there are treatments one can undergo to relieve the symptoms and prevent other complications. These treatments include chemotherapy, palliative pain treatments, bile duct stent or bypass surgery, and gastric bypass surgery.

Conclusion
Understanding the stages of pancreatic cancer recognises that everyone’s pancreatic cancer journey is different, and can reduce fear and uncertainty by helping one be aware of what is happening in their body.

However, other factors can also affect one’s prognosis and experience, from their age, health condition, to the grade of cancer cells. Close communication with one’s doctors is key, so that they can provide the best possible treatment at the given stage and health condition.


reasons-why-you-might-need-to-undergo-a-colonoscopy-thumbnail.jpg

December 24, 2020 Blog

When it comes to gut health, colonoscopy is something we can’t leave out mentioning. It is a very useful tool for detecting abnormalities in the intestines, including pre-cancerous growths and tumours.

The procedure is a type of endoscopy in which a long, thin, flexible tube is inserted into the body through the rectum. At the end of the tube is a tiny camera that enables the doctor to examine the colon’s interior. Surgical tools can also be inserted through the tube to perform polyp removals or biopsies.

But, unlike some other screening tests that can be undergone annually, colonoscopy is not recommended for frequent testing. So, when is a colonoscopy actually necessary?

Here are some reasons why a doctor may recommend a colonoscopy:

  • To investigate abnormalities in the intestines: When a person experiences gut symptoms like constipation, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, a doctor may use colonoscopy to examine the intestines for possible causes, such as perforations, growths, blockages, or inflammation.
  • To screen for colon cancer: For a person with no colon cancer symptoms, colonoscopy is sometimes used as a routine screening test. It can also be used to diagnose cancer in patients in which disease is already suspected.
  • Locate and remove polyps: Doctors are able to locate and remove any abnormal growths in the intestine during colonoscopy. Some of these growths may be detected on the spot during routine screening, or by means of other examinations like virtual colonoscopy – in which case, an actual colonoscopy follow-up is needed to remove the detected polyps.

Recommended frequency for colonoscopy

As the risk for colon cancer rises with age, most experts recommend that colonoscopy be performed once every 10 years for those above the age of 50 years. But for persons who have a higher risk of contracting colon cancer (e.g. those with a family history or past experience with polyps), the frequency can be increased to once every 5 years.

The interval between colonoscopies may be reduced in the event that a follow-up colonoscopy is needed. One case that may warrant this includes an incomplete colonoscopy.

Alternatives to colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is widely considered the best screening tool for colon cancer, as it has more reliable detection rates. However, factors like the tedious preparation process, risk of perforation, and discomfort during the procedure are key reasons why colonoscopy is not done more often. So, what about the long 5-10 years in between colonoscopies?

Doctors may recommend other tests and examination methods, depending on your current health concern. A CT colonography can view your intestines ‘virtually’ using X-ray imaging. For suspected rectal bleeding, tests like the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) or the faecal occult blood test (FOBT) can be done. These alternatives are also recommended for those who are not suitable for colonoscopies.

Conclusion

Knowing when to get a colonoscopy done can be key to detecting early cancer or other intestinal health issues. If you have any gut health concerns or are nearing the age where colonoscopy is recommended, do consult your doctor on when’s the best time to get screened.


natural-remedies-to-try-for-effective-constipation-relief-thumbnail.jpg

December 8, 2020 Blog0

Having trouble going to the loo? Being affected by the discomfort and pain of a bloated stomach is something many have experienced before, and when it happens, all we want is a quick fix to relieve that stuffy feeling.

Popping an over-the-counter laxative is usually effective, but reaching for medications too often can also have adverse side effects on the body. All too often, nature has the right solution for your non-serious episodes of constipation.

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with the occasional bout of constipation, but if you haven’t found one that works for you, here are some things you can try:

  • Eat more fibre: Most people don’t get enough fibre in their diet, which is a big contributor to constipation. Fibre increases the bulk of stools and makes them easier to pass; hence, adding more whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and oats to your diet could promote easier bowel movement. However, fibre might not work if the cause of constipation is not due to low fibre intake, or may worsen symptoms in people with IBS.
  • Get moving: Being too sedentary can cause constipation, which is why getting some exercise can aid in stimulating bowel movements. Try out mild to moderate exercise like brisk walking, swimming, or stretching. For some people, too-vigorous exercises may cause symptoms to worsen instead.
  • Drink up: One extremely common cause of acute constipation is dehydration. Drinking more fluids has a lubricating effect on the bowels, and softens stools, making them easier to pass. Some reports find that drinking carbonated water may have a better effect, but sugary drinks should be avoided in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as these may worsen constipation or irritate the bowels instead.
  • Eat probiotic foods: Certain cases of constipation are caused by an imbalance of gut bacteria. Probiotic foods recalibrate the balance of bacteria in the gut, facilitating the prevention and relief of chronic constipation. Some healthy and yummy sources of probiotics are yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, kimchi, and sourdough bread.
  • Have a cuppa: Your favourite morning pick-me-up could be the answer to your constipation woes. Caffeine stimulates the gut muscles, which helps in relieving constipation. However, people with IBS or sensitivity to caffeine might want to give this a miss, as this could exacerbate their gut symptoms instead.

As seen, not everyone reacts the same way to these remedies, as some may even make your constipation symptoms worse! The key is to find out what works for your body. If possible, discovering the cause of your constipation can help you chart out the best course of action to relieve constipation.

If you are unsure of what’s causing your constipation, or are suffering from persistent constipation, it is advisable to seek a doctor’s opinion. In some cases, constipation may be a symptom of a more serious underlying issue. A gastroenterologist can perform examinations to diagnose the problem and recommend you suitable treatments.


the-reasons-why-we-hiccup-and-how-to-make-them-stop.jpg

November 30, 2020 Blog

We all have experienced hiccups from time to time. They can be uncomfortable or even embarrassing, but they are typically short-lived. However, sometimes they can indicate a more serious health issue.

If you have recurring or long-term hiccups, do seek medical help. Early diagnosis can open doors to treatment which can prevent future complications. Here are some causes of hiccups and how you can make them stop!

What are hiccups?

Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm – the major muscle of respiration. Each contraction is followed by the sudden close in the vocal cords, which makes the distinct “hic” sound from your mouth. Hiccups are generally harmless as they resolve themselves after a few minutes.

Hiccups that lasts longer than 48 hours are defined as chronic hiccups. Chronic hiccups can cause gastroesophageal reflux which may lead to symptoms like heartburn, pain when swallowing, or bloating.

Why do hiccups happen?

Hiccups can happen because of many reasons – both physical and emotional. The common reasons include:

  • Eating or drinking too much or too fast: The stomach, which lies right underneath the diaphragm, expands after eating. This could trigger hiccups by pressing on or irritating your diaphragm.
  • Emotional triggers: Emotions like stress, anxiety, or excitement can trigger hiccups. This is due to the disturbance in the nerve pathways that lead from the brain to the muscles between the ribs.
  • Temperature changes: A change of temperature in your esophagus can cause hiccups. It is related to the irritation or stimulation of the nerves that cause the diaphragm to contract. For example, eating very spicy and acidic foods or drinking very cold liquids can sometimes trigger hiccups.

Hiccups are rarely a cause for concern, but if it is affecting your quality of life, it is time to get it checked. Persistent and frequent hiccups could point at serious health issues, including cancer. For example, some types of cancers where individuals may experience hiccups are stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, and lung cancer. This can happen when a tumour is pressing against the diaphragm. Persistent hiccups could also be due to a problem with the brain, blood composition, or the stomach.

If you are experiencing symptoms like severe abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, shortness of breath, or spitting up blood, do consult a doctor for an in-depth examination.

What are some ways to stop hiccups?

There is no one cure for hiccups that works for everyone. However, there are several well-known home remedies you could try. These include:

  • Holding your breath for a short time
  • Taking a few sips of ice-cold water
  • Having a taste of lemon or vinegar
  • Experiencing a sudden fright

For more severe hiccups that cannot be cured by home remedies, visiting a doctor would be recommended, especially if the hiccups persist for more than 3 hours. Specialists can diagnose the cause of hiccups and give you the best possible medical treatment. A doctor may prescribe medications such as Thorazine, Haldol, or Reglan. Thorazine and Haldol are sometimes used for hiccups related to stress or anxiety. Reglan is an anti-nausea medication that may help some people with hiccups.

Conclusion

The occasional hiccup attacks are normal, but when it becomes frequent and longer-lasting, it could be a sign for a serious medical condition. Remember to take persisting hiccups seriously and visit a professional who can help you. Prevention is better than cure!


how-your-excessive-burping-could-be-a-serious-health-issue-thumbnail.jpg

November 26, 2020 Blog

Having a few occasional burps after a full meal is normal. But if it happens frequently and way more than usual, it could be a sign of health problems.

Burping is the body’s way of getting rid of excess air in your digestive tract. So why does it happen? When you swallow food, it goes through your oesophagus and into the stomach. The acid, bacteria, and chemicals inside your stomach will break the food down into nutrients and convert it into energy. So when you swallow air along with food and drinks, those gasses can come back up – this happens, for example, after drinking a carbonated beverage or beer.

Swallowing air is the most common reason for burping, but there are many more possible causes that you might not be aware of. Read on to find out the other possible causes for burping!

What causes us to burp?

Besides swallowing an excessive amount of air when you are eating or drinking, there are some medical conditions that include burping as a symptom. Some of these may require you to get immediate medical attention. 

  • Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD): Gastrointestinal reflux disease, also known as acid reflux, is a disorder that causes acid from the stomach to flow upwards into the oesophagus, causing heartburn. This can be treated with over-the-counter medicines, but if the symptoms of heartburn are frequent and severe, it is best to get it checked.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disorder that affects the digestive system. Certain foods can trigger it, so can stress, anxiety, and infections. Symptoms of IBS include burping, constipation, and abdominal pain. While there is no cure for this medical condition, a change in lifestyle and medications can help reduce the symptoms.
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection: Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that causes infections in the stomach. It could sometimes cause inflammation that allows acid to eat away at the digestive tract, leading to the formation of stomach ulcers. You may feel a burning sensation in your stomach, burping, bloating, or abdominal pain. 

How can I stop burping?

Here are a few lifestyle changes that will help reduce burping:

  • Eat and drink slowly: Taking your time can help you swallow less air.
  • Don’t smoke: When you inhale cigarette smoke, you are also swallowing air.
  • Talk a walk after eating: Physical activities will help with digestion.
  • Avoid chewing gum: Chewing gum or even sucking on hard candy causes you to swallow air.
  • Take an antacid: This helps neutralise stomach acid and prevent heartburn.

Conclusion

If you experience excessive burping that does not stop after a week, talk to a doctor. It could be an underlying medical condition that needs immediate care. This is especially true when it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as abdominal pain or heartburn. A specialist can determine the most effective treatments and medications for you.


7-possible-causes-for-the-pain-in-your-lower-right-abdomen-thumbnail.jpg

November 17, 2020 Blog

Many reasons can cause pain in the lower right abdomen. Some of these causes are severe and may need immediate medical attention. The abdomen is the body space between the chest and pelvis. It contains all the digestive organs, and the lower right portion of the abdomen contains a part of the colon, right kidney, and the appendix.

Abdominal pain is never normal, so it is vital to get it checked out when you have serious symptoms. The presence of different symptoms can help identify the cause or decide whether you need immediate care. Read on to learn more about the causes for pain in the lower right abdomen!

The common causes of lower right abdominal pain

Most of the time, lower right abdominal pain comes from minor and temporary conditions. Here are some common causes of them:

Indigestion

The pain in the lower right abdomen could be a result of indigestion, which may be accompanied by other symptoms such as heartburn and flatulence. Over-the-counter medicine from your local pharmacy could help you manage occasional cases of indigestion. However, if the symptoms last for more than 2 weeks, you may need more serious medical attention.

Gas

Gas can build up in the intestines when food is not digested properly. This may cause feelings of discomfort and bloating. Other symptoms include burping and passing gas.

Constipation

Constipation is infrequent bowel movements or having difficulty passing stools that persists for a few days. In more serious cases, chronic constipation can last for several weeks. In addition to feeling pain in the lower right abdomen, some other symptoms include having hard or lumpy stools, straining to have bowel movements, or feeling blockage in your rectum.

Serious causes of lower right abdominal pain

In some cases, lower right abdominal pain can indicate a more serious medical condition. These conditions require immediate medical care:

Appendicitis

Appendicitis is the infection of the appendix. This happens when the appendix is blocked by waste, a foreign object in your body, or cancer. It is a medical emergency and mostly requires you to have immediate surgery to remove the appendix. Appendicitis typically comes with symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, and pain in your lower right abdomen.

 Kidney stones

Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidney. When it passes through the urinary system, some of the larger stones may get stuck and cause severe pain to the abdomen, lower back, and groin. Some other symptoms experienced may include blood in the urine, pain when urinating, vomiting, and feeling nauseous.

Kidney infection

The kidney can become infected due to bacteria in the urinary system. Although it is less severe than kidney stones, it can cause pain that is felt in the lower abdomen, and medical attention is required to prevent any permanent damage.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a chronic condition of the digestive system that has to be managed long-term. The symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. It should be taken seriously when you notice a persistent change in bowel habits or other symptoms as they may indicate a more serious condition, such as colon cancer.

Conclusion

Mild abdominal pain that goes away on its own may not require any medical treatment. However, if you have any persisting, severe, stabbing, or sudden pain, you should talk to a medical professional, as you never know when it might be a life-threatening condition.


5-reasons-you-may-be-experiencing-left-abdominal-pain-thumbnail.jpg

November 11, 2020 Blog

Left abdominal pain is an ache or discomfort you feel towards the left side of your tummy. Although experiencing pain in the left abdomen is a common problem, frequent and persistent pain should never be ignored.

Usually, minor pain in this area is nothing to worry about and may clear up in a day or two. But if you are experiencing swelling in the abdomen, fever, or bloody stools, visit a doctor immediately as they could be a sign of a serious condition. It’s always better to get it diagnosed sooner than later!

Read on to learn more about the causes of left abdominal pain and when you should see a doctor!

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is one of the most common causes of pain, specifically in the lower left abdomen. It occurs when pouches in the intestinal wall called diverticula, become infected and inflamed. Some symptoms may include vomiting, fever, nausea, or feeling bloated. For mild diverticulitis, getting some rest and taking antibiotics may help. But for more serious cases, surgery might be required. 

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is a chronic condition that occurs in the digestive tract when a person cannot digest gluten, which is a protein found in wheat and other grains. This condition causes a person’s immune system to attack portions of their intestine, which cause a range of digestive problems. Some signs of celiac disease may include pain in the abdomen, constipation, weight loss, and diarrhoea.

Gas

Gas in the digestive tract can cause pain and discomfort in either side of the abdomen. It is usually the result of swallowing air. Generally, gas is not serious, but if the pain is persistent or is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, heartburn, or constipation, talk to your doctor. 

Indigestion

Indigestion often occurs after eating spicy, greasy, and fatty foods. Smoking or drinking can also trigger it. It typically comes with symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, or heartburn. Some over-the-counter medications can ease the discomfort.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones can cause great pain when it moves around. A person’s diet, weight, and genes are possible causes for developing kidney stones. Depending on your situation, kidney stones can be managed by taking some pain medication and drinking lots of water until they are passed out in urine, or you may need surgery if the stones become lodged in the urinary tract.

Conclusion

Seeing a doctor for abdominal pain is vital when there are unexplainable or persistent symptoms. Let your doctor know the symptoms you are experiencing so that they can help develop a treatment plan. Remember, having a healthy diet and lifestyle can decrease the chances of certain abdominal pain!


what-you-should-eat-when-you-have-pancreatic-cancer-thumbnail.jpg

October 26, 2020 Blog

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas. Normally, a pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produce hormones that regulates blood sugar. Exocrine cells produce the digestive juices, while endocrine cells produce the hormones. Majority of pancreatic cancer starts in exocrine cells, while a small minority begin in the endocrine cells.

Pancreatic cancer often causes digestive issues like bloated stomach, vomiting, and impacts one’s appetite. This is because the affected functions of the pancreas makes digesting food more challenging than normal. Thus it is important to have a good diet plan to maintain good nutrition, combat symptoms, and aid in the treatment journey. Here are some beneficial foods to eat!

Protein-rich foods

Protein helps the body to repair cells and tissues. It also helps to keep your immune system strong. This is important for your body to fight the cancer, recover from treatments, and ensure you do not fall ill with other illnesses. It is also important to eat foods that are easy to digest as pancreatic tumours can affect your digestion. Here are some easy-to-digest protein sources:

  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Tofu
  • Nut butters
  • Beans

Fruits and vegetables

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables provide your body with antioxidants, which helps in your fight against cancer. Cooked vegetables are recommended instead of raw ones. Berries, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are high in antioxidants, fibre and phytochemicals. Here are some options:

  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach

Eat healthy fats

Avoid eating fried, greasy, and fatty foods, as such foods are difficult to digest and frequently lead to stomach pain or discomfort. Choose foods that are baked, broiled or grilled instead. Healthy sources of fats are needed to help supply your body with energy and maintain body temperature, so here are some foods with healthy fats you should consume:

  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

High-fibre starches

Carbohydrate and fibre help keep your energy up. Fibre plays a big role in maintaining gut health and reducing the risk of developing certain cancers such as colon cancer. It also lowers the glycaemic load of a meal and can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels. Some examples of high-fibre carbohydrate sources are:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Wholegrain oatmeal

Drink more liquids

Water and other liquids help in digestion and also reduce fatigue and nausea. You can also try consuming smoothies that contain calories to help maintain your weight. Fluids will aid your body in clearing toxins and waste. It is recommended to have between 6-12 cups per day. To make drinking water more palatable, you can try flavour-infused waters using your favourite fruits, vegetables and herbs!

Conclusion

Choosing the right things to eat will reduce some pancreatic cancer symptoms and also help you stay energised, aiding your fight with cancer. Remember to choose easily digestible foods! You should also consult your doctor or dietitian to work out a plan that will best suit your current needs.


myth-or-fact-what-you-need-to-know-about-pancreatic-cancer-thumbnail.jpg

October 19, 2020 Blog

Pancreatic cancer is known to be one of the most difficult cancers to treat, mainly because many cases do not present early symptoms. When present, many pancreatic cancer symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, and general weakness can be easily overlooked as symptoms of other factors. Apart from low awareness of recognising pancreatic cancer symptoms, many people have many misconceptions about the disease, leading to late diagnoses and low screening rates.

To increase your defence against pancreatic cancer, here are some misconceptions about the disease we need to quell.

Myth #1: Pancreatic cancer screenings tests are readily available.

Colon cancer has the colonoscopy, and cervical cancer has the Pap smear, but pancreatic cancer has no one definitive screening test. Instead, pancreatic cancer is usually detected through a battery of tests like MRI or endoscopic ultrasound, and biopsies.

Usually, these imaging and lab tests are only conducted when there are already symptoms present. That is why pancreatic cancer is quite difficult to detect as compared to some other cancers with readily available tests for the general public.

Myth #2: Surgery for pancreatic cancer may cause it to spread to other parts of the body.

In some cases, a patient’s condition may seem to worsen after surgery, or the doctor may find more tumours in the body than originally thought. However, this does not mean that surgery causes cancer to spread.

Pain and discomfort after surgery is normal, and in some cases the condition seems to worsen because of these. When a doctor finds more tumours in the body, it is not that the cancer has spread, but that they might not have detected those tumours in previous imaging tests.

Instead, surgery directly helps to reduce the spread of cancer cells by removing these tissues. Cancer is also not spreadable through the air – it is not like airborne viruses.

Myth #3: Pancreatic cancer is always deadly.

Contrary to what some may believe, pancreatic cancers can be treated. Early detection of pancreatic cancer often leads to successful treatment. Unfortunately, it is difficult to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages, during which treatment is known to be most successful.

As a result, pancreatic cancer is often detected only in the later stages, when the cancer has already spread to other areas in the body. At this point, the cancer is difficult to treat even with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Myth #4: There is only one type of pancreatic cancer.

Not all pancreatic cancers are the same, and they should not be treated the same way. There are 2 main types of pancreatic cancer. Most pancreatic cancers are exocrine pancreatic cancer, which affect the exocrine glands and ducts of the pancreas. The other type of pancreatic cancer, making up only less than 5% of cases, develops from the endocrine gland or islet cells of the pancreas.

Knowing the type of pancreatic cancer helps doctors perform more targeted treatments for the particular type of cancer cells and affected tissues.

Myth #5: Pancreatic cancer is strictly hereditary.

Generally, only around 5-10% of pancreatic cancers are from hereditary causes. In these cases, certain genetic mutations are passed down from parents to their children which can significantly raise the risk of the offspring getting pancreatic cancer. By contrast, the majority of pancreatic cancers are due to genetic mutations that occur during the individual’s lifetime.

Other factors that have been found to contribute to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer are old age, obesity, and smoking, as well as health conditions like diabetes.

Conclusion

It is always important to distinguish the facts from myths to better understand the risks and treatments associated with pancreatic cancer. Not only can this help you get a better idea of what pancreatic cancer is and isn’t, but it can also help you educate others about the disease.

Should you find that you are suffering from symptoms similar to pancreatic cancer, it is best to consult a health professional. They can help you to identify any diseases early, and advise you on the next steps to take. By speaking to a health professional, you can further understand more about your health and body!


Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

All Rights Reserved, gutCARE | Sitemap