Pancreatic cancer affects about 13,000 Italians every year (13-15 cases out of 100,000 inhabitants) subtly, without giving any particular signals. “The symptoms of this neoplasm are non-specific: nausea, weight loss, anorexia, slight abdominal pain which then become more important over time, so they can be related to many other non-tumor pathologies. For this reason, the diagnosis is still late”. Thus Luca Frulloni, full professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Verona, on the sidelines of the conference ‘Screening strategies and prevention of digestive tumors: the European Project’, promoted in Rome by the Foundation for digestive diseases (Fmd) to illustrate the European recommendations and the useful actions to be implemented in Italy to promote a healthier lifestyle and encourage prevention programs.
“We tell patients: if you’re fine, but you notice new symptoms that you’ve never had before, then see a doctor who can decide whether to undergo instrumental investigations and more specific tests. In general, however – underlines the specialist – it is very difficult establish symptoms that may indicate when the patient must undergo a diagnostic procedure, which can be an ultrasound or a second level examination such as CT or abdominal resonance “.
The main alarm bell is jaundice, “an important clinical sign that when it occurs requires an emergency room – warns Frulloni – The other symptoms, especially in the elderly, are significant weight loss, not due to any diet or to a reduced caloric intake. In this case it is advisable to be examined”. For the gastroenterologist “it is not so difficult to reduce the incidence of pancreatic cancer, as to arrive at an early diagnosis of the disease which is the one that allows the patient a long survival”.
People affected by this neoplasm have the possibility of being operated on with robotic surgery. “Surgical centers that deal with pancreatic pathologies generally use robotics – explains Frulloni – Almost all the Italian centers of excellence in this area use robotics. There are not many, but at a regional level it is possible to address them to be sure of receiving surgery by an expert center in this area. In this sense, the Italian Association for the Study of the Pancreas has published on its website the list of hospitals that can be contacted, divided by region”.
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