Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that begins in the organ located just behind the lower part of the stomach, called the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for secreting enzymes that aid digestion as well as producing insulin and certain hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars.
Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer
Approximately 55,500 of U.S. adults are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. While there are no symptoms in the early stages of pancreatic cancer, later stages may include symptoms such as:
- Pain in the abdomen or middle back
- Fluid in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
- Unexplained weight loss
- Yellow skin or eyes
Causes of pancreatic cancer
While the exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown, there are many risk factors that can make a person more likely to get the disease, including:
Tobacco use is one of the most important risk factors of pancreatic cancer; it increases your risk nearly 50 percent when compared to those who have never smoked.
- Body weight
People who are obese or overweight are about 20 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. The reason is this: Their fat tissues produce more hormones, like insulin, than those people of a healthy weight.
- Environmental factors
Regular or prolonged exposure to certain chemicals like pesticides, benzene, certain dyes, and petrochemicals may raise a person’s risk for developing pancreatic cancer.
The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. The average age of diagnosis is 71.
Men are slightly more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women. This is often attributed to their higher rates of tobacco use.
- Family history
Those with a family history of pancreatic cancer are genetically predisposed to the disease, which puts them in a higher risk category. However, many who are diagnosed do not have a family history of the disease.
Pancreatic cancer is more common in people with diabetes.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and is in need of expert care, contact the board-certified oncologists at Regional Cancer Care Associates’ Central Jersey Division at 732-390-7750. We are skilled in providing compassionate chemotherapy in Central New Jersey.