Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pancreatic Cancer

My mom was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Naturally, this came as a shock and has truly saddened me. I thought I should post some basic information on pancreatic cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 29,000 people a year are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have explained that:

"Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — a large organ that lies horizontally behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars.

Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis, even when diagnosed early. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it's a leading cause of cancer death. Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and surgical removal isn't possible."

Pancreatic cancer is sometimes called a "silent disease" because early pancreatic cancer often does not cause symptoms. But, as the cancer grows, symptoms may include:
1. Pain in the upper abdomen or upper back
2. Yellow skin and eyes, and dark urine from jaundice
3. Weakness
4. Loss of appetite
5. Nausea and vomiting
6. Weight loss

While there is no proven way to prevent pancreatic cancer, you can do the following to reduce the risk:
1. Quit smoking.
2. Maintain a healthy weight.
3. Exercise regularly.
4. Eat a healthy diet.

If you would like to learn more about pancreatic cancer, or cancer in general, please visit one of the following websites: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/pancreatic, or http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pancreatic-cancer/DS00357.