Pancreatic Cancer; Too Easily Overlooked - 8 News NOW

Pancreatic Cancer -- Too Easily Overlooked

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We don't hear as much about pancreatic cancer as we do breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer, but the United States sees more than 45,000 new cases each year, and more than 38,000 of those cases are fatal. Terrible odds. On top of that, it's difficult to diagnose. A recent study in Great Britain found that doctors miss pancreatic tumors in some 60% of patients.

One of the most famous people to die of pancreatic cancer in recent years was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. Yet when most people heard the news, they probably did not even know what the pancreas does.

The pancreas is a small but extremely important organ. It produces hormones that control many of our body's functions. When those hormones go awry, diabetes can result.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. It was brought to my attention on twitter, by a young woman who wanted me to know more about a charity called the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or PanCan for short. I learned a lot on her suggestion, and was glad to find out that PanCan is one of the most trusted and well-respected charities by Charity Navigator and Philanthropedia.

The symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be mistaken for other things, but I found these general symptoms in articles on the Mayo Clinic website and "Medical News Today":

*Pain in the upper abdomen from the tumor pushing against nerves

*A painless yellowing of the skin and eyes and darkening of the urine called jaundice, created when the cancer interferes with the bile duct and the liver.

*Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting

Significant weight loss and weakness

*Acholic stool (pale or grey stool) and steatorrhea (excess fat in stool)

*Also sometimes included are depression and blood clots.

You can see, this could be almost anything, but if you have some of these symptoms, you should have your physician check them out.

Not a great deal is known about the causes of pancreatic cancer, but if it runs in your family, be sure to tell your doctor. Smoking cigarets is known to increase your risk by a factor of 2 or 3 (Mayo Clinic).

So I had my consciousness raised about pancreatic cancer, and I wanted to pass it along! A big thanks to PanCan for the great work they do, and to Nahtana, who was so persistent in her request. She raised a lot of people's awareness, too, because she also tweeted Katie Couric, Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and my colleague at 8 News Now, Denise Valdez.

Remember, your health is in your own hands!

Sincerely,

PAULA FRANCIS

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