Pancreatic cancer affects the pancreas, which is an organ in the abdomen, behind the lower part of the stomach. The pancreas helps with digestion and releases hormones that regulate your blood sugar levels.
Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is typically not detected in its early stages when it is easier to treat. Instead, it usually is detected when it spreads to other areas of the body.
What causes pancreatic cancer?
The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unclear, but there are certain factors that increase the risk. Smoking, diabetes, being overweight, being over age 65, and a genetic or family history can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. This type of cancer is also more common among people who have chronic inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatitis.
Is pancreatic cancer preventable?
You can reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer by giving up smoking if you are a cigarette smoker. It is also helpful to maintain a healthy weight and follow a nutritious diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
How is pancreatic cancer treated?
Treatment for pancreatic cancer will vary depending upon the exact location and stage of the cancer, as well as a person’s health and preferences. The primary goal of treatment is to eliminate the cancer, if possible. If this is not possible, the goal is to stop the spread of the cancer and keep a person as comfortable as possible. Treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of these options. In some cases, palliative care, in which the goal is to relieve pain and improve a person’s quality of life, may be beneficial.
- “I noticed stomach pain that was radiating to my back, and I was losing weight without even trying, because I had no appetite.”
- “I had itchy skin, and I noticed that both my skin and the whites of my eyes had a yellow tint.”
- “I experienced extreme fatigue, and my urine was darker than usual.”