Why Pancreatic Cancer is Dangerous
In 2023, an estimated 33,150 men and 30,930 women will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the US. While this might sound like a considerable number, it only equates to around 3% of cancer diagnoses. However, despite not being a common type of cancer, it is a dangerous type of cancer to have. To find out why this is, keep reading below. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about pancreatic cancer:
What is Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer is cancer that is located in the pancreas. The pancreas plays an important role in our body. It produces digestive enzymes, insulin, and numerous hormones that help with digestion. Without these things, our bodies could not convert food into fuel. We rely on our pancreas to survive.
Why is Pancreatic Cancer So Dangerous?
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer. The 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer in the US is just 12%. The main reason this figure is so low is because pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose. Currently, no screening tests can reliably and easily find early-stage pancreatic cancer in people who do not show symptoms. Because of this, we rely on people knowing their bodies and asking for help when they notice something has changed.
The good news is that if we spot this type of cancer early, it can be removed. People who spot it early have an increased survival rate of 44%. While this might not sound a lot, it is far better than the 12% survival rate if not spotted early.
What are the Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?
Here are some of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer you need to be aware of:
- Abdominal pain that radiates to your back.
- Yellowing of the whites of your eyes or your skin (jaundice)
- Unintentional weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Light or dark-colored stools
- Itchy skin
- Blood clots
- Extreme fatigue
- Diagnosis of diabetes or diabetes that is hard to control
How is Pancreatic Cancer Treated?
If you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, there are several treatment options you can look into. Here’s a list of some of the main ones:
- Surgery – this treatment can be used to remove part or, in some cases,all of the pancreas. A surgeon may also have to remove parts of other organs if the cancer has spread.
- Chemotherapy –chemotherapy can be used to reduce the cancer’s size, treat early cancer, stop cancer from returning, or improve symptoms.
- Radiotherapy – while this is rarely used for pancreatic cancer, in a small number of cases, it can help. In these cases, radiotherapy can be used to treat early cancer, reduce the cancer’s size, and improve any symptoms after treatment.
The Future of Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
Although very few treatment options are currently available for treating pancreatic cancer, there is hope for the future. Scientists are continually researching new treatments. One example of this is the research into the MIA PaCa-2 xenograft. Scientists hope that this research will help find new treatments for this horrible disease.
Although pancreatic cancer isn’t a common type of cancer, it is considered one of the most dangerous. This is because not only is it a difficult cancer to spot, but very few people know the symptoms of this disease. Despite this, there are treatment options available for pancreatic cancer, and hopefully, we will see more treatments becoming available in the future.