The American Cancer Society predicts that, in 2007, about 37,170 people in the United States will be found to have pancreatic cancer and about 33,370 will die of the disease. Pancreatic is one of the deadliest of all cancers with one of the lowest survival rates. According to the American Cancer Society, only about 5% of pancreatic cancer patients will be alive 5 years after the cancer is found. Even for those with local disease (it has not spread to other organs), the 5-year relative survival rate is only 16%.
Many people don't know what pancreatic cancer is because they are not familiar with the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland found behind the stomach. It is shaped a little bit like a fish. It is about 6 inches long and less than 2 inches wide. It extends across the abdomen. The pancreas serves two functions. It breaks down the fats and proteins in the food we eat so the body can use them. The pancreas also makes hormones to help balance the amount of sugar in the blood.
While pancreatic cancer can strike anyone, the American Cancer Society has identified several risk factors for pancreatic cancer:
* Almost percent of pancreatic cancer patients are older than 55.
* Men have this cancer more often than women.
* African Americans are more likely to have this cancer than are whites.
* The risk of this cancer is higher among smokers.
* There may be a link with eating a lot of red meat and pork, especially processed meat (such as sausage and bacon).
* Very overweight people are 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
* Pancreatic cancer is more common in people with diabetes.
* Some chemicals such as certain bug sprays, dyes, or gasoline products may raise the risk of this cancer.
* Cancer of the pancreas seems to run in some families. It seems to account for about 1 in 10 cases.
Some of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, according to the American Cancer Society are:
* Pain in the belly area (abdomen) or in the middle of the back is a very common sign of advanced pancreatic cancer. Again, such pain is often caused by something other than cancer.
* Losing weight (without trying) over a number of months is very common in patients with this cancer. They may also feel very tired and have a loss of appetite.
* If the cancer blocks the release of the pancreatic juice into the intestine, problems such as trouble breaking down fat can result. Stools might be pale, bulky, greasy, and float in the toilet. Other problems may include nausea, vomiting, and pain that tends to be worse after eating.
* The doctor may find that the gallbladder is enlarged.
Many patients are treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to prolong their life. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, you should contact a doctor for testing. Early diagnosis and treatment can help increase your chance of surviving pancreatic cancer.
For more information on cancer try visiting http://www.cancercondition.com - a website that specializes in providing cancer related information and resources including information on pancreatic cancer.