Pancreatic Cancer: Risk Factors and Symptoms
Few individuals are familiar with the pancreas' role in the body, let alone where it is situated. When given a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, people frequently wonder, "What does my pancreas actually do?"
Equal numbers of men and women are affected by pancreatic cancer. Early diagnosis is challenging, and the prognosis is frequently dismal. Various diagnostic approaches and therapeutic alternatives are available, despite the difficulties associated with this disease.
What are pancreas?
With both endocrine and exocrine functions, it secretes proteins into the bloodstream and other tissues. Through its exocrine function, it also releases digestive juices, also known as digestive or pancreatic enzymes, into the small intestine. It is a 6 inch long organ located deep in the abdomen between the stomach and the spine.
It's normal to ponder what might have caused the sickness when someone is diagnosed with cancer. Physicians frequently struggle to explain why one individual develops pancreatic cancer while another does not. However, we are aware that certain people may be more susceptible to pancreatic cancer than others due to certain risk factors.
Examples include modifiable risk factors that can be altered, such as diet or smoking. Other risk factors, such as age or family history, are unavoidable. Just as some people with few or no risk factors may acquire cancer, having one or more risk factors does not guarantee that you will get cancer.
The following are risk factors for pancreatic cancer, according to studies:
1. Chronic Pancreatitis - The persistent pancreatic inflammation is associated with a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Chronic pancreatitis frequently occurs in association with strong alcohol and tobacco use.
2. Obesity - Overweight or obese individuals have a marginally increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more is considered obese. Inflammation in the pancreas, another risk factor for pancreatic cancer, can also be brought on by obesity.
3. Diabetes - Over time, pancreatic cancer is more likely to develop in people with type 2 diabetes, often known as adult-onset diabetes. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are frequently related.
4. Smoking - Pancreatic cancer is roughly two times more likely to develop in smokers than in nonsmokers. The risk is also increased by using smokeless tobacco, cigars, and vaping. There is proof that the risk goes down if smoking is discontinued.
5. Family History - According to research, people who have a history of pancreatic cancer in their families are at higher risk. It is recommended that people with a family history of pancreatic cancer think about genetic counseling and testing to determine whether they are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer and maybe other malignancies. Despite being a risk factor, the majority of cases are unrelated to family history.
Speak with your healthcare physician right away if you are noticing one or more of these symptoms or believe you may be more susceptible to pancreatic cancer.
5 SYMPTOMS OF PANCREATIC CANCER
The signs of pancreatic cancer are frequently inconspicuous or may be mistaken for those of other illnesses. Early pancreatic cancer frequently has no symptoms, making it challenging to identify and manage. One or more of these typical signs may appear as the pancreatic tumor enlarges:
1. Loss of appetite or weight loss: Pancreatic cancer frequently causes unintended or severe weight loss. There may frequently be a change in preferred foods or little to no hunger.
2. Nausea and vomiting: Because the tumor may press on and partially block the stomach, it may be challenging for food to pass through. The discomfort, nausea, and vomiting brought on by this obstruction can get worse after eating.
3. Back and abdominal pain: Upper abdominal (belly) pain and lingering mid-back pain are both prevalent. This is frequently caused by the tumor pressing against the nearby nerves and organs. If you experience discomfort in addition to any of the above symptoms, we strongly advise that you visit a doctor because this symptom is rather common and frequently ignored.
4. Jaundice (yellowish eyes or skin): Bilirubin, a bile component made by the liver, accumulates in the blood, resulting in jaundice (yellowish eyes or skin). The bile duct is frequently blocked by pancreas tumors, which results in a bilirubin accumulation. Dark urine, scratchy skin, light-colored feces, or stools that are greasy or float, are other indicators of jaundice.
5. Digestive Problems: The pancreas is crucial in aiding digestion and controlling blood sugar. The pancreas may be the cause of indigestion, poor appetite, nausea, and changes in feces. The pancreas tumor may obstruct the pancreatic duct or alter the pancreatic enzyme synthesis, leading to digestive problems.
These signs and symptoms could be brought on by other medical conditions or pancreatic cancer. People should inform their doctor if they have these symptoms so that issues can be identified and treated as soon as feasible. Find a medical facility that specializes in treating pancreatic cancer if it has been determined that you have the disease.
Early detection aids in lifesaving. Gaining knowledge of the causes, signs, and risk factors for pancreatitis can aid in early detection, inspire individuals to lead healthy lifestyles, and direct them as to when to seek genetic counseling. Our educational tools can assist you in educating loved ones who may be at risk, seeking medical treatment, and taking steps to prevent this condition.