Pancreatic cancer is known to be one of the most serious of all cancers. Cancers of the exocrine pancreas is the second most common malignancy and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimated an astounding number of 31,860 Americans diagnosed for the year 2004. It is sad to say that in our advanced age of medicine almost the same number of patients will die this year as the number of newly diagnosed patients. This is one reason it is so important to start considering alternative methods to increase the immune system at the same time of doing an anti-tumor program.

Pancreatic cancer normally appears at the age of 55 to 65 years of age and occurs 1 1/2 to 2 times more often in men.

Symptoms

•          Pancreatic cancer metastases rapidly and is seldom diagnosed early because the patient’s symptoms are not always noticed.

•          Often times the onset of symptoms are gradual and the patient’s doctor may interpret the symptoms as another diagnosis.

•          Symptom Triad: 

1.         Weight loss is usually gradual and progressive.

2.         Abdominal pain is usually described as a steady “boring” midepigastric pain that is usually worse at night.

3.         Jaundice may present late and can be progressive or spontaneous fluctuations.

Etiology

* Diets high in fat have been associated with development of pancreatic cancer. Other considerations include ingestion of meat and total caloric intake from fried foods, dairy products and seafood.

* There have been a number of studies that suggests diabetics have a greater chance of developing pancreatic cancer.

* It is unusual to find pancreatic cancer in a patient younger than 40 years of age. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age.

* Studies have proven that pancreatic cancer is more common in the African-American population.

* Cigarette smoking is one of the biggest risk factors due to cigarettes containing a large number of carcinogens.

* Cancer of the pancreas is more common in men than women.

* Chronic pancreatitis has been linked to pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer Glossary

•          Benign: not malignant; not recurrent; not cancerous

•          Biopsy: the removal and examination of a small piece of tissue from the living body to denameine if cancer cells are present.

•          CA 19-9: a tumor marker for pancreatic cancer found in the patient’s blood.

•          Carcinogens: any substance that has the ability to cause cancer.

•          Carcinogenic: any substance that causes cancer.

•          Chemotherapy: a treatment for disease by using chemical agents.

•          Malignancy: a cancerous growth which has the tendency to progress.

•          Metastatic: the transfer of a cancer from one organ to another.

•          Radiation: a treatment of disease using high-frequency ionizing radiation.

•          Tumor: a growth of tissue in which the division of cells is uncontrolled and progressive.

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