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Pancreatic Cancer & Fluid Buildup in the Lungs

More than 37,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year, mostly those over the age of 55, reports Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center 124. Typically, there are no early symptoms of pancreatic cancer, which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat successfully 24. Fluid buildup in the lungs can occur as a result of many disease processes, including metastatic cancer from the pancreas.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Pancreatic Cancer

The most common type is adenocarcinoma, which accounts for 95 percent of all cases, reports the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center 23.

Adenocarcinomas affect the cells active in secreting digestive enzymes. Most symptoms appear because of the involvement of other organs in the digestive system.

Fluid in the Lungs

Differences Between Lung Cancer and Lymphoma

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Fluid in the lungs, also known as pulmonary edema, or PE, is not to be confused with pleural effusion, which is fluid in the tissue surrounding the lung. Symptoms of PE may include coughing, shortness of breath, diminished breath sounds and wheezing.

Causes of PE include heart conditions, pneumonia, kidney disease and cancer. Lung cancer is cancer that originates in the lung; metastatic lung cancer is cancer that originates at some other location in the body, such as the pancreas, and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs.

Identifying the cause of fluid buildup in the lungs includes diagnostic testing such as a chest X-ray or CT scan, lung needle biopsy to obtain fluid for cytologic examination and a surgical lung biopsy, if needed.

  • Fluid in the lungs, also known as pulmonary edema, or PE, is not to be confused with pleural effusion, which is fluid in the tissue surrounding the lung.
  • Identifying the cause of fluid buildup in the lungs includes diagnostic testing such as a chest X-ray or CT scan, lung needle biopsy to obtain fluid for cytologic examination and a surgical lung biopsy, if needed.

Treatment

Treatment options for pancreatic cancer are determined by the stage of the cancer 24. In the early stages where the cancer is contained within the pancreas, treatment options include:

  • surgery to remove all or part of the pancreas
  • radiation
  • chemotherapy
  • or a combination of radiation
  • chemotherapy

Prognosis

Five Stages of Cancer

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The outlook for people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer has historically been very poor 24. The main reason for the dismal prognosis is that symptoms indicating pancreatic cancer usually don't appear until the disease is advanced or metastasized to other organs, such as the lungs or liver 24. Since treatment options at that point are mainly directed at comfort measures, most patients die within the first year of diagnosis, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center 2.

Clinical trials are ongoing at MD Anderson Cancer Center and other locations in search of new treatment strategies that will extend the survival rate for pancreatic cancer 24.

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