Also known as Exocrine Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer results in death more than 90% of the time. It is estimated that in 2008 there will be over 37,000 new cases and over 34,000 deaths.
The Pancreas is an organ in which helps the body digest, use and store energy from the food we eat. It also regulates blood sugar. When the Pancreas doesn’t work properly and the body can’t regulate blood sugar, this is known as Diabetes Mellitus.
When cells form when they shouldn’t or don’t die when they should, these cells will build up and form into what is known as a tumor. Tumors can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous.)
If a tumor has formed and it is benign, it can be removed successfully without affecting other organs and most likely not grow back. However, a tumor that is malignant can spread to other areas, or metastasize. This is usually caused by cells from the cancerous tumor breaking off and entering the blood stream, and growing into another cancerous tumor where they land, or end up.
Unfortunately, Pancreatic Cancer does not have early warning signs or symptoms. This is why it is often called a “silent disease” and often is under diagnosed. Most people who have pancreatic cancer will never know, or have any warning, until it is too late. This is why the death rate is so high.
However, when Pancreatic Cancer has spread, it will yield symptoms. Some of these symptoms will include:
1. Loss of appetite
2. Weight loss
3. Pain in the upper abdomen and back
4. Yellowing of the eyes and skin, as a result of jaundice
6. Nausea and vomiting.
Most of the symptoms that become present after the cancer has spread are because it is now affecting more organs than just the pancreas. Some of these organs would include the Liver and Stomach.
Not all of these symptoms suggest Pancreatic Cancer. These symptoms could be a result of many other, less serious conditions. None the less, any of these symptoms or signs should be checked out by a health care professional to ensure proper treatment and diagnosis.
Doctors and specialist don’t know what causes Pancreatic Cancer, but there are risk factors. These include:
1. Being Male One reason or another, males are more prone to developing Pancreatic Cancer
2. Diabetes Mellitus People who have Diabetes already have a condition that is affecting the Pancreas that makes it not work properly, this exposes them to a greater risk of developing the cancer.
3. Smoking Smoking increases your risk by 2 to 3 times.
4. Age The older you are the more likely you are to get this cancer.
5. Family History It has been shown that people who have a family history of Pancreatic Cancer almost triples their risk. Other cancers such as colon and ovarian cancer increase the risk as well.
6. African Americans African Americans are more likely to get the disease than any other race.
7. Diet and Chemical exposure studies have shown that those who have a diet high in fat or have had exposure to certain kinds of chemicals are at a high risk of developing this cancer.
8. Chronic Pancreatitis This is a condition that causes pain. It may increase ones risk of Pancreatic Cancer.
Unfortunately, Pancreatic Cancer can only be cured if it is discovered before it has spread. Once it has spread, there is little to no hope of ever recovering from the disease. If the disease is diagnosed early enough, the only way to fully recover is to have the tumor completely removed.