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The Challenges Of Treating Pancreatic Cancer


November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, which makes this a good time to learn more about the challenges of treating pancreatic cancer.

Approximately 57,600 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and 47,050 people will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. It is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.

Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. This means the disease is rarely detected at its early stages when it’s most curable.

Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of these treatments. When pancreatic cancer is advanced and these treatments aren’t likely to offer a benefit, your health care provider will focus on palliative care to keep you as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.

Learn more about the challenges of treating pancreatic cancer from Dr. Karthik Giridhar, a Mayo Clinic medical oncologist.

Even with aggressive treatment, the prognosis is poor.

Various factors stack the odds against successful pancreatic cancer treatment:

  • Early detection is uncommon. Few pancreatic cancers are found in the early stages of the disease, when the cancerous cells can be surgically removed. Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer — such as pain in the upper abdomen, yellow skin and eyes, and weight loss — don’t typically occur until the disease is advanced.
  • There are no effective screening tests for pancreatic cancer. If you or your family has a significant history of pancreatic or other cancer, discuss with your doctor whether you should be undergoing any genetic testing or routine checkups.
  • Pancreatic cancer tends to spread quickly. The pancreas lies at the junction of several very important structures in your abdomen, making it easy for the cancer to spread into these structures and other organs. Pancreatic cancer often spreads to nearby organs — including the liver, gallbladder and intestines — early in the course of the disease.
  • Recurrence is likely. Even after surgical removal, pancreatic cancer often recurs.

Most people with pancreatic cancer undergo chemotherapy as part of their treatment. Several newer combination treatments show promise in increasing the response rate to pancreatic cancer treatment.

Mayo Clinic, posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com

‘Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.’


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