Pancreatic cancer – Warning Signs & Risk Factors

Pancreatic cancer – 4 Warning Signs and 7 Risk Factors You Need to Know

What is Pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer begins within the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produce hormones that help manage your blood glucose.

Several sorts of growths can occur within the pancreas, including cancerous and noncancerous tumors. The foremost common sort of cancer that forms within the pancreas begins within the cells that line the ducts that carry digestive enzymes out of the pancreas (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma).

Pancreatic cancer is seldom detected at its early stages when it’s most curable. this is often because it often doesn’t cause symptoms until after it’s spread to other organs.

The cancer stage at diagnosis, which refers to extent of cancer within the body, determines treatment options and features a strong influence on the length of survival. Generally, if the cancer is found only within the part of the body where it started, it is localized (sometimes mentioned as stage 1 or 2). If it’s spread to a different part of the body, the stage is regional or distant. The earlier a pancreas cancer is caught, the higher chance an individual has of surviving five years after being diagnosed.

Pancreatic cancer treatment options are chosen based on the extent of cancer. Options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or a mixture of those.

4 Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer are

Weight loss – Within one year of diagnosis, 73.5% of pancreatic cancer patients lost at least 5% of body weight according to one study. A number of factors may cause weight loss in people with pancreatic cancer. Weight loss might happen as cancer consumes the body’s energy. Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatments or a tumor pressing on your stomach may make it difficult to eat. Or your body may have difficulty processing nutrients from food because your pancreas isn’t making enough digestive juices.

Loss of Appetite – This can happen due to inflammation caused by cancer itself, or blockage of organs like the bile duct, stomach, or small bowel due to cancer growth.

Jaundice – Most people with pancreatic cancer (and nearly all people with ampullary cancer) will have jaundice as one of their first symptoms. Jaundice is caused by the buildup of bilirubin, a dark yellow-brown substance made in the liver. 

Nausea – Nausea, and vomiting in patients with pancreatic carcinoma may be at least partially due to malabsorption and abnormal gastrointestinal motility. The use of anti-nausea medications and pancreatic enzymes may relieve symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of carcinoma often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. Some other warning signs include:

  • Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that’s becoming harder to regulate
  • Blood clots
  • Fatigue

7 Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer are

Age – The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. 70% of patients diagnosed with this cancer are older than 65 years. Other risk factors, especially any family history of inherited cancer syndrome, can cause cancer to occur at a younger age.

Smoking – Smoking may cause about 20-30 percent of all exocrine pancreatic cancer cases. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most people who develop pancreatic cancer are older than 45. In fact, 90% are older than 55 and 70% are older than 65. However, adults of any age can be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Obesity – Obese people have a 20% increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer according to multiple studies. Losing weight can help decrease your risk if this applies to you.

Family history – Risk increases if multiple first-degree relatives had the disease or if any were diagnosed under 50.

Diet – A diet high in red and processed meats may increase risk and one high in fruits and vegetables may decrease risk. Once diagnosed, patients typically do best with healthy fats (such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds), and should avoid greasy, fried, and heavy foods.

Diabetes – Long-standing (over 5 years) diabetes increases risk and up to 80% of pancreatic cancer patients present with either new-onset type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.

Gender -Slightly more men are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than women. This may be due, at least in part, to higher tobacco use in men, which raises pancreatic cancer risk.

How can Ankr help?

Ankr is a cancer education and navigation platform developed by a team of cancer experts and patients. Ankr helps you learn about treatment options for pancreatic cancer, how can pancreatic cancer be cured, and helps you navigate through your chemotherapies and other treatments. By using Ankr, you can prevent and manage side effects and avoid an ER visit!

Get started now by signing up on the myAnkr website or by downloading the Ankr – Cancer Companion app on your phone.

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