An estimated 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. Compared with other forms of cancer, this type of the disease does present with rather low numbers. Even so, it manages to be the third most common cause of cancer related deaths with about 41,000 fatalities attributed to the cause each year.
With a five-year survival rate lower than 10 percent, pancreatic cancer is most certainly difficult to treat. The whys behind that make the push to advance detection and treatment protocols very easy to understand.
Pancreatic cancer forms in an organ that is hidden well inside the body. In its initial phases, it generally presents with no noticeable symptoms. Complicating matters is the fact that no wide-use early screening tools have yet been developed. That means when this disease is diagnosed, it has very often already begun to spread to other organs.
When pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in early phases, a few treatment options do exist for patients. Chemotherapy and radiation are often used after surgical procedures meant to remove tumors. In some cases, chemo and radiation may be used in advance to shrink tumors prior to surgery. At present, however, most treatments are not very effective simply because the disease is often caught in more aggressive phases.
Understanding personal risk factors for this disease may help lead to earlier detection should it develop. Those who are at highest risk tend to have a family history of the disease, suffer from diabetes, have chronic pancreatitis and smoke, among other risks. If the disease is suspected, endoscopic ultrasound may lead to detection.
Pancreatic cancer is often called a silent killer because of its ability to take hold without notice. People who are risk for this disease are urged to speak with their healthcare providers. Preventative measures, such as quitting smoking, may help lower risks.