Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, with a five-year survival rate of just 9%. Each year, World Pancreatic Cancer Day is observed on the 3rd Thursday in November with the aim of raising awareness about this disease and funds for research. Let's take a closer look at pancreatic cancer, its symptoms, and what you can do to help.
What is pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the pancreas, an organ located in the abdomen. The pancreas has two main functions: to produce enzymes that help with digestion, and to produce hormones that regulate blood sugar levels.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of cancer, with a five-year survival rate of just 9%. In the United States, it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death.
What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?
Unfortunately, by the time most people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the disease has already spread to other parts of the body and is difficult to treat. This is one of the reasons why pancreatic cancer is so deadly.
The most common symptom of pancreatic cancer is abdominal pain. Other symptoms include:
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Loss of appetite
What causes pancreatic cancer?
The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown, but there are some risk factors that may increase your chance of developing the disease. These include:
Smoking: Cigarette smoking is the most significant risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
Age: The risk of pancreatic cancer increases with age, and the disease is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 65.
Family history: If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you have an increased risk of developing the disease.
Diabetes: People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?
Pancreatic cancer is typically diagnosed with one or more of the following tests:
CT scan: A CT scan is an imaging test that uses X-rays to take pictures of the inside of the body.
MRI: An MRI is an imaging test that uses magnets and radio waves to take pictures of the inside of the body.
Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue is removed from the body and examined for cancer cells.
Pancreatic cancer is a serious disease with few symptoms and a very low survival rate. If you are at risk for pancreatic cancer, it is important to talk to your doctor about your risks and what you can do to help prevent the disease. You can also help raise awareness about pancreatic cancer on World Pancreatic Cancer Day.