Because of its lack of symptoms, pancreatic cancer often goes undetected until it is too late to be successfully treated. Since there are so few warning signs, it is important to be aware which groups of people are more susceptible to this disease so that their health can be monitored more closely.
Cigarette smoking is perhaps the biggest risk factor for developing cancer of the pancreas. Those who smoke are nearly three times more likely to develop this type of cancer than those who do not smoke. Both race and sex may also play a role in pancreatic cancer. It appears that black people are more likely to develop this form of cancer than those of other races. Of those who do develop this condition, men are more prone to it than women.
Like some other forms of cancer, diet can also play a role in pancreatic cancer. Those who eat a high-fat diet that is low in fruits and vegetables are more likely to develop cancer than those who eat a healthy diet. People who are overweight or have diabetes may also have a higher chance of developing this type of cancer.
Because of its almost hidden location in the body it is hard to diagnose cancer of the pancreas. The pancreas is located behind the stomach and buried in a loop of the small intestines. This means that it cannot easily be manipulated during a physical examination so small tumors often go undetected. In fact, cancer of the pancreas is usually not diagnosed until a tumor is quite large or the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, nausea, and pain in the upper abdomen. Since the pancreas secretes enzymes that aid in the digestive process, a patient may also experience problems with digestion. They may also suffer with jaundice, a condition where the skin and whites of the eyes become yellowed as a result of improper function of the bile and bile ducts as a result of the cancer.
Although its prognosis is improving, pancreatic cancer is, for the most part, considered incurable. This is because this type of cancer is generally not discovered until it is in the late stages where it has already spread to other organs. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may prolong life expectancy but it is not common for these procedures to clear the cancer completely.
For those diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas, the outlook is not favorable. This disease is generally not discovered until it has already progressed to a point it involves other body organs. There are also usually no symptoms while the cancer is in the early stages, and no tests have been developed as of yet that successfully predict its formation.
Therefore, if you notice anything unusual in your body, or the way your body works, it is important to see your doctor for an examination. Getting a head start on cancer is the best way to prevent and possibly cure it.
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.