Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Part 1: What is it?
Known as the world’s toughest cancer, pancreas cancer ranks in the top five most dangerous types of cancer including lung, breast, and colon cancer. This cancer develops and grows in the cells of the pancreas and is quite aggressive. Therefore, raising pancreatic cancer awareness is very important.
How Many People Have Pancreatic Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2019, an estimated 56,770 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We hope this article will raise awareness of this disease, its symptoms, risk factors, and treatments.
What Is Pancreatic Cancer?
The first step is understanding where this organ is in your body. The pancreas is an organ in your lower abdomen that lies horizontally behind the lower part of your stomach. The nearby organs include the liver, intestines, spleen, and stomach.
Like these other organs, the pancreas deals with digestion. Specifically, the pancreas is responsible for producing digestive enzymes and hormones that control blood sugar levels. Like any cancer, pancreatic cancer starts when cells in the body grow out of control.
What Are The Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?
Early detection of pancreatic cancer is often difficult because it does not normally present any signs or symptoms. As pancreatic cancer grows, you may notice one or more of these common symptoms:
- Dark urine
- Pale stools,
- Yellow skin and eyes from jaundice
- Pain in the upper part of your belly
- Constant pain in the middle back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue or loss of appetite
These symptoms may be caused by pancreatic cancer or by other health problems. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we urge you to speak with your doctor immediately. It is important to address these symptoms quickly so they can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
What Are The Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer?
Another important part of pancreatic cancer awareness is knowing the risk factors. Due to high levels of added sugar in today’s food, pancreatic health is at a much higher risk today. Additionally, clinical studies have found the following risk factors for pancreatic cancer:
- Tobacco use
- Family history of pancreatitis
- Chronic pancreatitis
Can I Reduce My Risk of Pancreas Cancer?
Even though there are several risks, they can be prevented. For example, eating a healthy diet, keeping a healthy weight, and exercising frequently will not only improve your overall health but can also reduce your risk of other health problems. Since smoking is also a risk factor, quitting the habit is vital.
Not only will these healthy habits help you prevent pancreas cancer, but they will also reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
How Soon Do I Have to Make a Change?
It’s important to make these changes now. Serious health problems often happen because of bad habits. Investing time into good habits now will help you stay healthier for longer. For example, positive exercise and healthy eating habits will reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, heart disease, and gallbladder disease.
Consult with your doctor if you have any questions about preventing pancreatic cancer or disease.
How is Pancreatic Cancer Treated?
The First Step: Detection
Pancreatic cancer is a serious and often deadly form of cancer. In most cases, it is not possible to detect the disease in its early stages. This means that pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage when the disease has already spread to other parts of the body. There are, however, some signs and symptoms that may be associated with pancreatic cancer. These include abdominal pain, jaundice, weight loss, and changes in the stool. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. pancreatic cancer can be difficult to treat, but early diagnosis may improve the chances of successful treatment.
Pancreatic cancer is treated based on its stage or how far it has spread in the body. Your overall health will affect treatment options. If you have symptoms that suggest cancer of the pancreas, your doctor will try to find out what’s causing the problems by performing a physical exam, CT scan, or Ultrasound.
The Second Step: A Plan of Attack
Once your examination is complete, your doctor will help you form the best plan of attack. In order to do this, we at The Surgical Clinic will work together and evaluate all of your treatment options. Common cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, drug therapy, and radiation therapy. Because these treatments can be hard on your body, we also involve nutritionists to help you stay strong and healthy.
We also understand that every patient’s case is different. As we work together, we will build your treatment plan around you.
The Third Step: Treat Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer treatment usually involves:
- Radiation therapy
Surgery is the most common treatment for pancreatic cancer. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. If you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you. There is no one-size-fits-all pancreatic cancer treatment plan. The best pancreatic cancer treatment plan for you may be different from the best pancreatic cancer treatment plan for someone else. Treatment plans are based on many factors, including the type and stage of pancreatic cancer, your overall health, and your preferences. You and your doctor will work together to develop a pancreatic cancer treatment plan that meets your needs.
If you would like to learn more about our oncologists and their treatment philosophy, visit our surgical oncology page.
Meet Your Middle Tennessee Surgical Oncologists here or to learn more about Surgical Oncology from Dr. Patrick S. Wolf and Dr. Richard J. Geer, click here.
Book Your Appointment Today
Surgical Oncology is a specialty area of practice at The Surgical Clinic, a multi-specialty surgical practice with offices conveniently located throughout Middle Tennessee. For more information or to make an appointment, visit our website here.