While pancreatic cancer is particularly deadly because there is no early detection test and only limited treatments, there are symptoms that can signal the disease, a leading pancreatic cancer nonprofit says.
Unfortunately, most Americans do not know what those signs are.
In a recent survey, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) found most adults are unaware of the signs that could help them detect the disease earlier, so the organization is offering a guide to help people become more aware of the symptoms.
The most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer are abdominal or back pain, weight loss or loss of appetite and digestive problems. Other common symptoms include yellowing of the skin and eyes, known as jaundice; an oily or watery stool; and new-onset diabetes.
“Pancreatic cancer symptoms are vague and can be confused with many other abdominal or gastrointestinal issues. Understanding these symptoms along with certain risk factors and your own family history can provide confidence,” said PanCAN President and CEO Julie Fleshman.
“We know it can be difficult speaking to your doctor about pancreatic cancer, so we want to empower everyone to be their best health advocate with this new tool,” she said in an organization news release.
Pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of just 11%, according to PanCAN. The disease was responsible for the deaths of numerous high-profile people, including Alex Trebek, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Steve Jobs and Aretha Franklin.
Despite those high-profile cases, 83% of adults in the survey did not know the signs or symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Older adults were least likely to have that information, which PanCAN called troubling, given that 90% of patients diagnosed with the disease are 55 and older.
An early diagnosis could improve a patient’s treatment options.
The new survey was conducted in online interviews with 1,045 male and female respondents, 18 and older and nationally representative by gender, age, ethnicity and census region.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on pancreatic cancer.
SOURCE: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network ~ By Cara Murez HealthDay
Knowing the symptoms of pancreatic cancer is just as important as knowing the best treatment for pancreatic cancer, and often times radiation therapy can be a good option, in particular CyberKnife.
CyberKnife therapy has been used successfully to treat pancreatic cancer in patients who are poor surgical candidates, those who refuse surgery, and in patients for whom surgery or other treatments have failed.
Treating tumors in and near the pancreas with radiation is challenging because the stomach, bowel, kidneys, and liver are in close proximity to the pancreas, making it difficult to target them safely with radiation. As a result, with traditional radiation therapy, the tumor may not receive enough radiation to destroy it, and healthy tissue near the tumor may be damaged.
CyberKnife’s missile guidance technology and respiratory tracking system eliminates that problem. It enables the radiation beam to track tumor movement in real time as patients breathe normally, always staying on target, delivering the highest dose of radiation possible, and destroying the tumor without harming healthy surrounding tissue.
Another bonus: CyberKnife only requires one to five treatments compared to over 25 to 35 with standard radiation.
The treatment is completely pain free. You feel nothing as the computer-controlled robot moves around the body delivering radiation. Patients dress comfortably in their own clothes and can bring music to listen to during treatment.
Nothing will be required of the patient during treatment, except to relax and lie as still as possible.
Once treatment is complete, most patients quickly return to their daily routines with little interruption to their normal activities.
Early results indicate that patients tolerate the CyberKnife procedure well.
Doctors will discuss all possible side effects prior to treatment. In addition, doctors may prescribe medication to control any side effects, should they occur.
After treatment, the patient will follow-up with their doctor and will have CT or PET/CT scan prior to your follow-up appointment.
The patient should be aware that his or her tumor will not suddenly disappear. Response to treatment varies from patient to patient. It could take several weeks or longer to determine the effectiveness of the CyberKnife treatment.
The types of treatment for pancreatic cancer will depend on the stage of the disease. CyberKnife radiotherapy is also often combined with chemotherapy.
Studies show the growth of pancreatic tumors in patients with advanced disease has been controlled by CyberKnife radiosurgery without damaging normal tissues including bowels, kidneys, and liver.
If you have pancreatic cancer, it’s critical to understand your treatment options. To find out if you’re a candidate for life-saving CyberKnife radiosurgery, call the CyberKnife Center of Miami at (800) 204-0455.