Pancreatic Cancer: Identifying Symptoms And Risk Factors Of This Fatal Disease
“Enjoy every day without worrying about the next.”
— Diego Zamora, pancreatic cancer survivor
World Pancreatic Cancer Day is observed annually on the third Thursday of November — a day to remember those who lost their lives due to this deadly disease and encourage those fighting this lone battle.
Many families have seen their loved ones lose the battle against pancreatic cancer, whereas some still witness or have been a part of their daily struggles.
The theme for World Pancreatic Cancer 2022 is “It’s About Time”, which focuses on educating people about identifying the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and encouraging them to get an early diagnosis before it’s too late.
There is no denying that pancreatic cancer is lethal, but do you know what makes this form of cancer even deadlier?
The fact that it has a 5-year survival rate which stands below 10%. Unfortunately, 90% of patients succumb to this disease within two years of diagnosis.
And that’s not all; Pancreatic cancer is the seventh leading cause of cancer deaths globally. In 2020, 4,95,773 new cases were reported, with 4,66,003 casualties.
It is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and Europe and is all set to become third by 2030.
According to a WHO report, pancreatic cancer was the 8th most common cancer in the UAE, with 2.8% cases and 6.3% casualties reported.
But let’s first understand what causes pancreatic cancer and the symptoms one needs to watch out for.
How Cancer Occurs?
Cancer begins when cells divide, spread uncontrollably into surrounding tissues and grow out of control.
What Causes Pancreatic Cancer?
Sadly, it’s not clear what causes it, but several studies indicate risk factors that may lead to the development of pancreatic cancer.
According to a study, smoking is one of the biggest risk factors, responsible for 20%-30% of pancreatic cancers.
- Tobacco Use
- Age Factor (common in people above 45)
- Men more vulnerable than women
- Genetics and hereditary factors
- Poor lifestyle (Obesity, diet, and alcohol)
- Lack of physical activity
- Race/ethnicity (For Eg: Black Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than any other racial or ethnic group)
Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms
The pancreas aids in digestion and helps regulate blood sugar levels. It is about 6 inches long in adults and sits behind the stomach on the upper left side of the abdomen.
The malignant cells forming in the pancreas’ tissues is how pancreatic cancer begins.
- Abdominal Pain
- Back Pain
- Dark Urine
- Itchy Skin
- Blood Clots
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Weight Loss
Taking preventive measures is necessary to reduce the chances of pancreatic cancer. Let’s look at what one should do to reduce the chances of pancreatic cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid processed food.
- Quit smoking
- Stay physically active
- Cut down on alcohol
It is necessary to have a healthy lifestyle and pay attention to the measures mentioned above to stay far away from pancreatic cancer and any form of the disease.
Treatments For Pancreatic Cancer
There are several treatments for pancreatic cancer, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, the doctor may recommend treatments depending on the state of the patient, which varies from one to another.
In chemotherapy, medicines are used to treat patients, whereas in radiotherapy, high-energy radiation kills cancer cells.
It won’t be wrong to say that technology is a boon for the healthcare industry, leading to better diagnosis and treatment of patients. The UAE has witnessed the positive impacts of introducing groundbreaking technologies and drugs to help contain pancreatic cancer.
According to a 2022 news report, the UAE doctors performed one of the longest surgeries in the world, a 12-hour long surgery to extract a 4 cm tumour from the pancreas.
The UAE government is continuously taking steps and focusing on providing advanced care to patients with the help of technological advancements.
Pharma Solutions, a UAE-based pharmaceutical platform, has been leading the crusade against cancer in the UAE by prioritizing drugs for assistance in cancer care.
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