Pancreatic Cancer can take emotional, physical, and mental tolls on those who have been affected. Let’s take a look at what it is, risk factors and how to prevent it.
WHAT IS PANCREATIC CANCER?
Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas, which is behind the lower part of the stomach. The pancreas’ job is to release enzymes to assist with digestion and produce hormones to help manage blood sugar. Essentially, the pancreas converts the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells, and when the pancreas is unable to do so, our bodies weaken.
Pancreatic cancer is a rare form of cancer and only affects about 200,000 people per year. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is seldom detected at an early stage, which means that by the time it is found, it has progressed in severity and can be more challenging to treat. As this type of cancer spreads to other organs, the infected person will start noticing other symptoms such as abdominal pain, loss of appetite, jaundice, color change in stools, itchy skin, blood clots, and fatigue. Treatment options for pancreatic cancer vary depending on the stage, location, and other factors. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and surgery are all standard options for treatment for most patients. When the illness is caught early enough, it can be cured.
RISK FACTORS OF PANCREATIC CANCER
There is no exact known cause for pancreatic cancer, but current research shows that some factors may increase the risk of developing this disease. Smoking cigarettes or tobacco-related products have been known to contribute to developing pancreatic cancer because of the carcinogens (cancer-causing cells) found in the products. Additionally, genetic factors play a role in pancreatic cancer as well. Studies show that although genes do not cause the disease itself, they definitely increase the risks for developing the disease.
PREVENTING PANCREATIC CANCER
In order to protect yourself against pancreatic cancer, and really any form of disease, it is important to take care of yourself. Obviously, if you are smoking, it would be wise to stop. Maintaining a healthy weight is also helpful in working to decrease your risk of pancreatic cancer. Choosing a healthy diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables, is a great way to do so, as well as consuming the right amount of water your body requires. If you or someone you know has been affected by pancreatic cancer, you can encourage them to share their story to help others who may have experienced or are experiencing similar situations. Routine check-ups and lab work with your PCP will also help in proactively treating the disease. Make sure and make smart decisions regarding your health-after all, life is short, and you only live once.