What do the iPhone, Jeopardy, and NASA have in common? They were all affected by people who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer! Steve Jobs of Apple, television host Alex Trebek, and astronaut Sally Ride are among many celebrities who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Among the worldwide population, it is the 13th most common, but the third most fatal cancer. This is because its symptoms often appear when the disease has spread throughout the body, when treatment is difficult. By sharing awareness and knowledge with those we know, experts believe we can improve the chances of those diagnosed with this cancer and begin treatments earlier. This month is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month, and there are a few things you can do to recognize it and help stop this harmful disease.
Learn the symptoms
Pancreatic cancer offers very few “early” symptoms as it begins to form in the pancreas, but there are some warning signs to look out for. These symptoms will start showing once a buildup of bile in the pancreas affects other systems, so it’s important to catch them right away. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network shares 7 common symptoms that could alert you to the presence of a pancreatic tumor. They are: Abdominal or mid-back pain, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing skin and eyes), weight loss, nausea, change in your stool, and a recent onset of diabetes.
Measure your risk
Several factors come into play when determining if you are at risk for pancreatic cancer. The elements identified by researchers that determine if you are in a risk category are wide, but very important to note. Risk categories include: people with a family history of pancreatic cancer, smokers, those who are obese, elderly men, diabetics, and those who have chronic pancreatitis. This cancer is well-known for striking people of all categories, however, so these risk categories are not exclusive. Speak with your doctor if you have concerns about your risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
Support awareness efforts in your community
With so many people affected by pancreatic cancer, celebrities and normal folks alike, there’s a good chance someone in your community knows about its impact first-hand. Look to see if there are awareness campaigns in your region that you can help support, either through donations, volunteering, or signal-boosting on social media! In the United States, several walks are taking place throughout the month of November and into 2021 that you can participate in. Find a PurpleStride walk, donate, or learn how to host your own awareness event online at www.pancan.org.