Last Saturday, I attended an educational event hosted by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Cancer of the pancreas is an awful disease and it has taken too many of my close family members. I've recently gotten involved with the local PanCAN Affiliate organization.
While the longevity rate for pancreatic cancer (PC) patients is very low, I recently met a 5 year survivor and a 9 year survivor! Those are long times for those with this disease.
Here are some not-so-fun facts:
- PC recently moved from the 4th to the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related death in the US and is expected to become the 2nd leading cause around 2020.
- PC is one of the nation's deadliest cancers, with a 5-year survival rate of just 9%.
- It is expected that an estimated 55,440 people will be diagnosed with PC in the US in 2018, and 44,330 will die from the disease.
- PC is the 8th most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the 11th most commonly diagnosed in men.
- Risk factors, while still being investigated, seem to include: family history, age, chronic or hereditary pancreatitis, smoking, obesity, and long-standing diabetes.
- The symptoms for PC are vague. They include pain, usually in the abdomen or back; weight loss; jaundice; loss of appetite; nausea; recent-onset diabetes.
- Early detection is hindered by the location of the pancreas, deep in the abdominal cavity.
- Surgical removal of the tumor is possible in less than 20% pf patients with the most common type of PC.
- Chemotherapy is offered to patients whose tumors can't be removed surgically.
- CLINICAL TRIALS ARE THE PREFERRED OPTION FOR TREATMENT.
I'll be posting more about pancreatic cancer soon. This deadly disease needs to be spoken about, not hidden away.