With the passing of Steve Jobs last week, there has been much discussion about pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is usually very invasive as there is less research and information about it than breast or colon cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of death from cancers, behind breast and colon and lung cancer. Pancreatic cancer is so deadly as the pancreas is vital to daily living, just like that of the heart. The pancreas, located behind the stomach, is responsible for the production of insulin, hormones, and pancreatic juices which are produced by exocrine and endocrine glands.

 

The 2 Types of Pancreatic Cancer: Pancreatic cancer has two types, the cancerous cells either effect the endocrine or exocrine glands in the Pancreas. Cancerous cells develop into tumors, which can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors show little growth, thus are less dangerous and aggressive. Malignant tumors are very aggressive, and usually spread into other parts of the body.

 

Who is at Risk: Men are statistically more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women. Smoking can also increase risk by 2 to 3 times. Lifetime risk for pancreatic cancer is 1 in 71. Also at risk are those suffering from obesity, people who lack in daily exercise and diabetics. Since diagnosis for pancreatic cancer usually occurs in later stages, lifetime survival rates are low. Other factors include exposure to chemicals, family history and overall dietary habits.

 

Symptoms: Pancreatic cancer rarely shows symptoms early, so it’s important to keep a sharp eye out for symptoms, especially if you have a family history of cancer in your family. Symptoms can include:

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite, nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight-loss

 

Treatment: Like most cancers, pancreatic cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. The appropriate method of treatment is dependant on the stage and development of the cancer. There are also altertative treatment options such as herbs, specialty diets, and spiritual activities. Success has been seen with the following treatments:

 

Resources:

Medical News Today Pancreatic Cancer Overview 

CBS News HealthWatch on Pancreatic Cancer 

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