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What You Have To Know About Pancreatic Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in more than 29,000 people per year. It is the most serious of all cancers because it often spreads before it’s diagnosed; it is the fifth leading cause of cancer death. The prognosis for cancer of the pancreas is based on the stage the cancer is in when it is diagnosed. The further the progression, the least effective treatment will be. Even for pancreatic tumors that are surgically resectable, a cure is not guaranteed. The cancer can always reoccur and advance to another stage. Metastatic cancer occurs when the tumor is no longer localized, and it has spread throughout other tissues and organs of the body. At this stage, only palliative treatments are prescribed to keep the patient comfortable.

There are quite a few risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer, but they are relatively low for people below the age of forty. It isn’t until a person reaches their sixties that they become at higher risk because of increasing age, and other risk factors like smoking, high intake of fat and meat in the diet, or a history of cirrhosis of the liver, chronic pancreatitis, or diabetes. Previous surgeries to the upper digestive tract, environmental toxins, and long-term exposure to gasoline, insecticides, or a genetic predisposition are all significant contributing factors. Once pancreatic cancer has developed the symptoms may be vague; loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal discomfort and nausea, jaundice, itching, and elevated liver enzymes and bilirubin levels. Pancreatic cancer treatment options depend greatly on how far the disease has advanced. Surgical resection is an option if the tumor hasn’t become metastatic, and if not, and the tumor is locally advanced, then a combination of chemotherapy and radiation are prescribed. For advanced cases of cancer of the pancreas, chemotherapy is recommended because it is better than no therapy at all in the eyes of some oncologists. 


Pancreatic cancer prognosis is relatively grim for most. From the time of diagnosis, the median survival time is 3 ½ months for untreated advanced cancer, and six months with aggressive treatment. For more information on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of pancreatic cancer visit the Medline Plus offered by the United States National Library of Medicine located online at, the Mayo Clinic at, or, which features a wealth of information about pancreatic cancer and the world’s largest database of clinical trials. Knowledge is power, and with increased awareness, diagnosis can be made sooner and treatments will be more effective.

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