Kidney Disease and Transplant Forum
Our mission is to support patients (adult and pediatric) and their families with during their time of need as they go through the End Stage Renal Disease and/or Transplant process with relevant information, support and access to helpful medical tools and resources.
Common Types of Pancreas Diseases and Treatment
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. It is often associated with early activation of digestive enzymes in the cells and ducts of the exocrine pancreas, instead of in the duodenum, that start "digesting" (destroying the tissues of) the pancreas itself. It usually presents with abdominal pain and can cause nausea and vomiting.
Pancreatic Cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing more than 39,000 people a year. Risks include smoking, age, sex (more common in men), chronic pancreatitis, and exposure to some industrial chemicals. About 95% of pancreatic cancers develop in the exocrine tissues. Pancreatic cancer is very difficult to detect in the early stages because symptoms are either absent or nonspecific: abdominal pain, pruritus, nausea, loss of appetite, and sometimes jaundice. Tumors near the head section that block flow to the intestine may be detected earlier. Only about 10% of the cancers are still contained within the pancreas at the time of diagnosis, which makes effective treatment very difficult. Additionally, pancreatic cancer does not respond well to current treatments. A variety of clinical studies and research efforts are being conducted on an ongoing basis to discover more effective methods. Cancer of the pancreas may cause damage to the pancreas, leading to EPI. Pancreatic cancer is sometimes treated with a pancreatectomy.
Pancreatic Insufficiency is not a primary disorder but is secondary to the other causes of pancreatic disease. It is the inability of the pancreas to produce and/or transport enough digestive enzymes to break down food in the intestine. It typically occurs as a result of progressive pancreatic damage, damage that may be caused by a variety of conditions. It is most frequently associated with cystic fibrosis in children and with chronic pancreatitis in adults; it is less frequently but sometimes associated with pancreatic cancer and other diseases that are considered to be "non-pancreatic causes" of insufficiency.
Pancreatectomy is the medical term for the surgical removal of the pancreas. The surgery may involve removal of the entire pancreas (total pancreatectomy) or only a portion of the pancreas (partial pancreatectomy). A pancreatectomy can be performed as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, pancreatic tumors (pre-malignant), chronic pancreatitis, or when the pancreas has been severely damaged by injury. Removing part of or the entire pancreas may cause a loss of pancreatic digestive enzyme production, leading to EPI.
Pancreatic Transplant is an organ transplant that involves implanting a healthy pancreas (one that produces insulin) into a person whose pancreas no longer can supply sufficient insulin to the body. The healthy pancreas comes from either a deceased donor, or in the form of a partial pancreas from a living donor. A pancreas transplant offers a potential cure for type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes. A successful pancreas transplant will eliminate the need for insulin injections, reduce or eliminate dietary and activity restrictions due to diabetes, and decrease or eliminate the risk of severe low blood sugar reactions. A pancreas transplant can also help manage the damage to other organs including the kidneys that may result from Type 1 diabetes.