Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease that spreads “silently,” without symptoms. When symptoms do present themselves, the cancer is usually advanced. However, there are a variety of innovative treatment options available to patients.
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Knowing the facts about pancreatic cancer will give you an awareness of the risks and the signs of the disease.
10 things to know about pancreatic cancer
1. Pancreatic cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the United States. It is also the fourth deadliest.
2. About 43,920 people (22,090 men and 21,830 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012.
3. About 37,390 people (18,850 men and 18,540 women) will die of pancreatic cancer.
4. Since 2004, rates of pancreatic cancer have increased about 1.5 percent per year.
5. The risk of pancreatic cancer increases as you age. Nearly 90 percent of patients are older than 55. The average age of patients when the cancer is found is 72.
6. Smokers have an increased chance of getting pancreatic cancer. Up to three out of 10 cases of pancreatic cancer are thought to be caused by smoking.
7. Obesity and lack of exercise are both risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
8. Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer include jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes), pain in the belly area, unexplained weight loss and fatigue, and digestive problems.
9. Pancreatic cancer is detected through physical exams and then imaging tests such as CT scans and MRI.
10. Cancer of the pancreas is treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Some or all of these treatments could be combined.