With a five-year survival rate that’s less than double digits, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of this disease. An estimated 53,000 Americans face this diagnosis annually with some 41,000 dying from the cause. With no early screening procedure readily available and a common lack of symptoms at onset, this disease often progresses to advanced stages long before a diagnosis is made.

While advances in screening and treatment have been very slow to come for pancreatic cancer, work is well under way to make improvements. In the meantime, some treatments are available and patients will find that doctors can sometimes help them successfully battle the disease if it happens to be caught in early stages.

Researchers are also finding that taking a patient-centric approach to treating this form of cancer can be very helpful. In some parts of the world, multi-disciplinary teams of physicians are tasked to providing patient oversights. These teams meet collectively to review patient cases, discuss diagnosis, evaluate treatment options and help address any side effects patients may be experiencing. This holistic approach may even include nutritionists, psychologists and patients themselves.

As work continues to find better treatments and someday a cure for pancreatic cancer, gains are being made in the trenches in regard to patient care. The team approach, for example, helps ensure the best possible outcome in a patient’s case while ensuring patient concerns are addressed.

People who are concerned about their risks for pancreatic cancer are urged to talk with their healthcare providers. Risk factors include diabetes, obesity, age, family history, cirrhosis of the liver and smoking, among others. While a routine screening procedure is not available, early detection can sometimes be achieved through imaging tests should this disease be suspected. Treatments have proven successful when this disease is caught in its beginning stages