November Is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness MonthPancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US and about 7% of all cancer deaths. A we observe November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, we share these statistics about the disease and possible ways to reduce your risks.
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 57,600 people (30,400 men and 27,200 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 47,050 people (24,640 men and 22,410 women) will die from the disease.
The average lifetime risk of pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 64. But each person’s chances of getting this cancer can be affected by certain risk factors. Pancreatic cancer It is slightly more common in men than in women. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed.
Here are some of the risk factors known to increase your risk for pancreatic cancer.
Smoking is one of the most important risk factors for pancreatic cancer. The risk of getting pancreatic cancer is about twice as high among smokers compared to those who have never smoked. About 25% of pancreatic cancers are thought to be caused by cigarette smoking. Cigar smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco products also increase the risk. However, the risk of pancreatic cancer starts to drop once a person stops smoking .
Being very overweight (obese) is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Obese people (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or more) are about 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. Gaining weight as an adult can also increase risk. Carrying extra weight around the waistline may be a risk factor even in people who are not very overweight.
Pancreatic cancer is more common in people with diabetes. The reason for this is not known. Most of the risk is found in people with type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is increasing in children and adolescents as obesity in these age groups also rises. Type 2 diabetes in adults is also often related to being overweight or obese. It’s not clear if people with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes have a higher risk.
Heavy alcohol use has been tied to pancreatic cancer in some studies. Heavy alcohol use can also lead to conditions such as chronic pancreatitis, which is known to increase pancreatic cancer risk. It’s best not to drink alcohol. If you do drink, you should have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men.
The Mayo Clinic has published this list of possible symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer. If you are concerned or are exhibiting any of these symptoms, call your doctor.
Abdominal pain that radiates to your back.
Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss.
Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that's becoming more difficult to control.