In 2019, there were 56,770 new cases of pancreatic cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. Pancreatic cancer accounted for 7% of all cancer deaths in 2019, and only 9% of patients diagnosed with this cancer survive five years after diagnosis.
To spread awareness about pancreatic cancer, November has been designated as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, with Nov. 21 designated as World Pancreatic Cancer Day.
About Pancreatic Cancer
Because it is difficult to detect in its early stages, 53% of pancreatic cancers are discovered once the cancer has metastasized, or spread, from its original location. Only 10% of pancreatic cancers are found while the cancer is still located in the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer has received a reputation of being hard to treat because it is difficult to detect, and once it has been, it is often at an advanced stage.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
- Having a personal history of chronic pancreatitis or diabetes
- Having a family history of pancreatic cancer, hereditary pancreatitis, or familial breast, ovarian or colon cancer, or familial melanoma.
- Having hereditary conditions like:
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) syndrome
- Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC; Lynch syndrome)
- von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
Early stage pancreatic cancer is generally difficult to detect because it doesn’t present with any signs or symptoms. When signs or symptoms do appear, they’re usually vague and similar to more common illnesses.
Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include:
- Jaundice (A yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)
- Light-colored stool
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Pain in the upper or middle abdomen or back
How to Get Involved with Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
If you want to get involved with Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, encourage your community to be aware of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer. You can also:
- Dedicate a race or a project to pancreatic cancer awareness
- Wear purple
- Donate to pancreatic cancer research through organization like PanCan
- Share your story if you or someone you know is affected by pancreatic cancer