What are the Different Types of Pancreatic Disease?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Smoking is one of the major risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
Smoking is one of the major risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

A number of diseases can involve the pancreas. Pancreatic disease usually interferes with someone's ability to digest food, and can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal tenderness, and symptoms of malnutrition. There are a number of treatments available for diseases of the pancreas, ranging from medications to compensate for failing organs to surgery to remove malignant neoplasms.

Alcoholism has been linked to acute pancreatitis.
Alcoholism has been linked to acute pancreatitis.

One very common form of pancreatic disease is diabetes, which interferes with insulin production in the pancreas. Although people think of diabetes as a whole body disease because it interferes with a number of other organ systems, the problems associated with diabetes can all be traced back to the problems with insulin production in the pancreas. Treatment can involve dietary control and supplementation with insulin to make up for the insufficient amount being produced in the pancreas.

Pancreatic cancer occurs when healthy cells mutate and begin growing rapidly.
Pancreatic cancer occurs when healthy cells mutate and begin growing rapidly.

Another form of pancreatic disease is pancreatitis, which can come in acute or chronic forms. Both forms are characterized by irritation of the pancreas, with acute occurring suddenly and being linked with conditions like alcoholism, while chronic forms consist of low level inflammation which persists for years. Cysts and pseudocysts can also form in the pancreas, and are considered another form of pancreatic disease.

A physician should monitor suspicious pancreatic cysts that may lead to persistent pain and other health complications.
A physician should monitor suspicious pancreatic cysts that may lead to persistent pain and other health complications.

Congential malformations of the pancreas can lead to malfunctioning and other problems. Likewise, cystic fibrosis, an inherited condition, can attack the pancreas, with thick mucus plugging the pancreas so that they cannot function and drain properly. In pancreatic enzyme deficiency, people are not producing enough enzymes in the pancreas, either due to an underlying medical problem or due to a congenital condition. The lack of appropriate enzyme production interferes with the ability to digest food and causes malnutrition.

Cystic fibrosis can affect the pancreas, a gland that aids in digestion and produces insulin.
Cystic fibrosis can affect the pancreas, a gland that aids in digestion and produces insulin.

Another form of pancreatic disease is cancer. Pancreatic cancers originate in the pancreas, and the pancreas are also vulnerable to metastatic cancer which spreads from other organs or areas of the body. The cancer will interfere with pancreatic function and spread to surrounding organs unless it is identified and addressed. Treatments can include chemotherapy and radiation to shrink or stop the cancer, along with surgery to remove cancerous cells so that they cannot spread.

Because many different conditions can lead to impairments in pancreatic function, people should not jump to conclusions if they learn that something is going wrong in their pancreas. Pancreatic disease needs to be fully worked up to find out what is happening and why, and there are usually a number of treatment options available to the patient, especially in the early stages.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Smoking is one of the major risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
      By: Denys Rudyi
      Smoking is one of the major risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
    • Alcoholism has been linked to acute pancreatitis.
      By: kmiragaya
      Alcoholism has been linked to acute pancreatitis.
    • Pancreatic cancer occurs when healthy cells mutate and begin growing rapidly.
      By: Sebastian Kaulitzki
      Pancreatic cancer occurs when healthy cells mutate and begin growing rapidly.
    • A physician should monitor suspicious pancreatic cysts that may lead to persistent pain and other health complications.
      By: Alliance
      A physician should monitor suspicious pancreatic cysts that may lead to persistent pain and other health complications.
    • Cystic fibrosis can affect the pancreas, a gland that aids in digestion and produces insulin.
      By: pixdesign123
      Cystic fibrosis can affect the pancreas, a gland that aids in digestion and produces insulin.