Pancreatic cancer is a devastating diagnosis that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and has a five-year survival rate of only nine percent. Pancreatic cancer develops when cells in the pancreas become abnormal and grow out of control. This uncontrolled growth can lead to tumors in the pancreas or spread to other parts of the body. The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown, but there are several known risk factors that increase a person’s chance of developing this deadly disease.
The most common risk factor for pancreatic cancer is age; those over 45 have an increased risk for developing this type of cancer. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, having certain genetic mutations, and having a family history of pancreatic cancer. People with diabetes also have an increased risk for developing this type of cancer since diabetes can damage the pancreas over time. Additionally, people who have been exposed to certain chemicals or radiation may also be at higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer.
When it comes to symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer, they vary depending on the location and size of the tumor as well as how far it has spread throughout the body. Common symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen or back, weight loss without trying, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, dark urine, light-colored stools, and blood clots in veins or arteries. If any combination of these symptoms are present it is important to seek medical attention right away as early detection can help improve prognosis and treatment options available to patients.
Treatment options for pancreatic cancer depend on many factors such as stage at diagnosis, overall health status and personal preferences. Surgery is often used to remove tumors from the pancreas if possible; however this is not always an option due to size or location within the organ itself. Radiation therapy may be used after surgery to kill remaining tumor cells or reduce tumor size before surgery if needed; chemotherapy may also be used before or after surgery to reduce tumor size or kill off remaining cells respectively. Newer treatments such as immunotherapy have also been found to be effective in treating some types of pancreatic cancers as well as targeted therapies that attack specific mutations within tumor cells that promote their growth and spread throughout the body.
Pancreatic cancer is a serious diagnosis that should not be taken lightly; however there are treatments available that can help improve prognosis when caught early enough so its important to recognize warning signs and seek medical attention right away if any combination of symptoms are present. Its also important for individuals who are at higher risk due to age or other factors mentioned above to get regular checkups so any abnormalities can be detected early on which could potentially save lives down the road!