Bengaluru is mourning the death of their very able leader Ananth Kumar. The reason for his death is reported to his long-standing battle against pancreatic cancer. This is a relatively rare form of cancer but is the third leading cause of death from cancer in the US. About 1 out of 63 men and 1 out of 65 women develop this form of cancer. According to health experts, 95% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die from it. Steve Jobs, actor Patrick Swayze, legendary singer Aretha Franklin passed away from pancreatic cancer. Nothing much is known about pancreatic cancer except for the fact that this form of cancer is often diagnosed at a much-advanced stage and the chances of survival are minimal.
Here’s everything you need to know about Pancreatic Cancer
Types of pancreatic cancer
There are two types of pancreatic cancer –
- Pancreatic adenocarcinomas that affect the exocrine gland and is a common form of pancreatic cancer.
- Pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer is a less aggressive form of cancer than the former one. It is often benign and patents affected by this form of cancer survive for at least 5 years after diagnosis.
Why is pancreatic cancer so deadly?
According to Allyson Ocean, an oncologist at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, pancreatic cancer hardly exhibits any symptoms that delay the diagnosis and this form of cancer is usually diagnosed at a later stage when the tumor is of a significant size and cancer has metastasized. As per clinical trials, just about 10-15% of pancreatic cancer can be considered for surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage.
There is also no screening tool to diagnose this form of cancer in its initial stages.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer
Because of the lack of symptoms, it is challenging for the medical community to diagnose this cancer early. Some common symptoms include
• abdominal pain
• loss of appetite
• stomach pain
• signs of jaundice
Late actor Patrick Swayze who was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the advanced stage has spoken in interviews to create awareness on this form of cancer and the symptoms that lead him to seek medical help.
He spoke about symptoms like indigestion problems and rapid weight loss that was a red flag for him to visit a doctor. While these were the symptoms doctors also said that his exposure to tobacco is also a strong risk factor of developing pancreatic cancer. Although smoking can be considered a risk factor, for medical professionals it is very difficult to pinpoint a particular cause of this disease.
Treatment of pancreatic cancer
Surgery is not a very suitable option for pancreatic cancer because in most cases the tumor spreads from the pancreas to the liver and chemotherapy is the best option to relieve symptoms of this cancer. Currently, new drugs and clinical trials are carried out that might prevent metastasis of cancer.
Since it is difficult to diagnose pancreatic cancer at an early stage, stay away from smoking and know your family history of diseases. Don’t ignore even a negligible health disorder like indigestion.
There are many medicines that are being developed currently that can treat pancreatic cancer effectively.