Wednesday, November 2, 2016


November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. Pancreatic cancer is considered the deadliest major cancer with a five year survival rate of only 8%. To see a decline in death rates for pancreatic cancer, more people need to know about the disease. And November is a great time to get started by educating yourself about the symptoms and risk factors

Warning signs:
Pancreatic cancer may show only vague, unexplained symptoms. If you experience one or more of these, contact your provider to discuss the possibility for developing pancreatic cancer.
  • Pain – usually in the abdomen or back
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice – yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Change is stool
  • Recent onset diabetes

Risk Factors for developing Pancreatic Cancer
Although the exact cause is unclear, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chance of developing the disease.
  • Family history – if your Mother, Father, Sibling or Child had pancreatic cancer, then your risk increases 2-3 times
  • Diabetes – long term diabetes increases your risk to develop pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis (or hereditary pancreatitis) causes an increased risk for pancreatic cancer
  • Smoking is a significant risk factor and may be the cause 20-30 % of exocrine pancreatic cancer cases
  • African American or Ashkenai Jews have a higher incidence of pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer risk increases with age; with most cases presenting over than age 60
  • There have been more men diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than women
  • A diet high in red and processed meats is thought to increase the risk for pancreatic cancer; however a diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk
  • Obesity increases the risk by 20% compared to normal weight people

If your family presents with risk factors, consider meeting with a genetic counselor. A genetic counselor will explain how a genetic mutation may contribute to increased frequency for developing pancreatic cancer. A genetic counselor can identify a family at higher risk and help the family interpret information about the disease. If you would like to meet with a genetic counselor, contact our office for an appointment.

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