In honor of this month, I’d like to share some information about the disease.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. It is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, killing more people than breast cancer. It’s projected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths by 2020.
Only nine percent of people with pancreatic cancer will live five years beyond diagnosis. In 2018, more than 55,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease and an estimated 44,000 people will die.
Because more people are getting imaging tests such as CT scans, benign and pre-cancerous growths are being found more often. However, most patients are diagnosed when the disease has spread outside of the pancreas and surgery is no longer an option. The chances of survival increase tenfold if a patient is diagnosed in time for surgery.
Several risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer: family history of the disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, smoking, obesity, race, age, and diet.
Common symptoms include abdominal or mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea, changes in stool, and new-onset diabetes. Often these symptoms are vague and attributed to other conditions.
For more information, visit the website of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, http://www.pancan.org.