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.
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.
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?
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?
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.