With a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of this disease in the United States. While only an estimated 49,000 people each year contract the disease, nearly 40,000 die from it annually. Considered a silent killer, this disease often presents with no symptoms at its onset. This disconcerting fact can make early detection quite difficult, often closing the window on effective medical interventions.
As pancreatic cancer-related deaths climb in the United States, the disease is on track to surpass breast cancer as the third leading cause of deaths in the United States. Researchers also believe that pancreatic cancer will soon become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. If that happens, it will only be topped by lung cancer.
The reasons for pancreatic cancer’s rise in attributed deaths are many. The lack of early onset symptoms is one of them. This disease also happens to lack an early detection test, such as those available for breast and prostate cancer. Add to these issues the overall vagueness of symptoms when symptoms do arise and it’s a recipe for disaster when it comes to providing early interventions.
While pancreatic cancer makes a grim climb to the top of the death charts, researchers are working around the clock to halt those numbers. Breakthroughs in potential testing and treatment have been reported across the globe and potential advancements are under study. In the meantime, nonprofit organizations are also working around the clock to gain funding to help keep research moving forward and to help those diagnosed in their struggles.
People who are unsure of their risks for pancreatic cancer are urged to discuss the topic with their healthcare providers. Such factors as family history, chronic pancreatitis, diabetes, age, ethnicity and obesity may all play a role in this disease’s development.