November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Pancreatic cancer is currently the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is anticipated to become the second by 2020.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the nation’s deadliest cancers with a five-year relative survival rate of just 6 percent.
Risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer include a family history of the disease, age, chronic or hereditary pancreatitis, smoking, obesity, and long-standing diabetes.
The symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be very general and mimic other gastrointestinal conditions. Symptoms may include:
- pain (usually abdominal or back pain)
- weight loss
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- loss of appetite
- changes in stool
Unfortunately, no research has shown what can be done to prevent pancreatic cancer, but there are some things that could possibly reduce your risk.
Maintain a Healthy Weight – Obese people have a 20% increased risk of developing the disease compared to people who are of normal weight. To determine a healthy weight, one should strive for a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 20 and 25.
Limit Alcohol Usage – Studies have shown that for non-smokers, there was a 36% higher risk of pancreatic cancer death among men and women who drank 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day, compared to those who never drink.
Quit Smoking – Smoking is a significant risk factor and smokers are 2 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than people who do not smoke.
To learn more about pancreatic cancer and how you can help with fundraising or volunteering, visit www.pancan.org.