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November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

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Savannah, Georgia (WSAV) — Pancreatic cancer affects about 55,000 people each year in the United States and is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in men and women, said Dr. Michael Hassel, a memorial health radiation oncologist. Says.

“Sometimes I think it’s a forgotten cancer because it has a very high mortality rate, but that’s not what we’re talking about,” Hassel said. WSAV NOW..

Medical professionals work at the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial Health, treating approximately 60 patients with pancreatic cancer each year.

“I’ve always heard people talk about breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers, and pancreatic cancer is one of the top five causes of cancer death, but so much. I can’t hear people talking, “says Hassel.

In March 2019, longtime “Jeopardy!” Host Alex Trebek, after being diagnosed with his own pancreatic cancer, began sharing his journey publicly, often shedding light on deadly illnesses. I helped.

The overall survival rate for this type of cancer is only 9%.

Beloved 80-year-old game show host Lost in Stage 4 battle on November 8, 2020, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Effects of pancreatic cancer on the body

“The pancreas is an organ in the upper back of the abdomen, and its role is to make enzymes that help digestion,” Hassel said.

He says that most people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer still have a pancreas that is functioning fairly well, but some develop diabetes as a result.

“The pancreas produces insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels, and a small proportion of patients present with diabetes as one of the symptoms,” Hassel said.

More common symptoms include back and stomach pain as well as jaundice.

“It’s not because the pancreas isn’t working well, it’s because the tumor in the pancreas is blocking the bile system and all the bile made by the liver can’t pass through and back up, turning yellow,” Hassel explained. ..

Risk factor

He says that aging is the greatest risk factor for pancreatic cancer, and the disease most commonly affects people between the ages of 60 and 70.

Hasselle adds that it is very rare for people under the age of 40 to be diagnosed.

Genetics can also play a role, with 10% of pancreatic cancer patients having a family history of the disease. According to Hassel, smoking and obesity can also increase a person’s risk.

Diagnosis, treatment and prevention

“We believe that about 25% of pancreatic cancers are early enough and can be cured when diagnosed,” Hassel said, interdisciplinary to effectively treat the disease. He added that the opinions of a typical team are essential.

“I often need a GI doctor to diagnose it. I need a radiologist who can tell me how close it is to a blood vessel. If it can be surgically done, I’ve done a lot of these steps. I need a professional surgeon, “he said.

Defeating pancreatic cancer is almost always a difficult battle, according to Hassel, and part of the question is that cancer is not always surgical.

“Probably only about 15% or 20% of patients at the time of diagnosis are candidates for surgery, and the only way to really treat pancreatic cancer is to have surgery as part of the treatment,” he said. It was.

Being unhealthy may rule out surgery for some people. Hassel also says it is unsafe to try to remove the tumor if it is wrapped around important blood vessels.

“The third problem is that surgery will not help because many patients have cancer already spread somewhere in their body at the time of diagnosis,” he said.

He said pancreatic cancer is difficult to cure with surgery, adding that surgery can cure about one-third of cases.

Hasselle states that there is currently no effective pancreatic cancer screening tool for the general public.

“The best we can do is to consult a genetic counselor to see if we are at high risk if we have a family history of cancer, especially pancreatic cancer,” he said. “There is some data to consider considering screening studies of people if they are known to be at high risk because of their family history.”

Eating a healthy diet and not smoking can also reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, he says.

“Raising awareness and attracting attention to cancer tends to help drive research, funding, and clinical trials,” Hassel said. “The more people know about it and talk about it, and the more research funding invested in it, the more likely we are to improve treatment over time.”

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