A common thought is that pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat, and prognosis is often dismal. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 55,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas in 2019.
Diagnosing pancreatic cancer early enough for effective treatment can be challenging for a number of reasons:
- The pancreas is located deep in the abdomen, between the stomach and the spine.
- Pancreatic cancer often doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms in the early stages; symptoms may be non-specific like indigestion or heartburn.
- Pancreatic cancer spreads to nearby organs, early and quickly.
- Lack of effective screening tests.
What causes pancreatic cancer? There is no definite or identifiable cause, but well-known risk factors include obesity, smoking, diabetes, family history of pancreatic cancer, inherited cancer syndromes, chronic pancreatitis.
Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, Dr. Santhi Swaroop Vege M.D., shares how new treatment protocols for pancreatic cancer are improving outcomes. “This (Mayo Clinic) is probably the only place that I know on the planet where you have a group of gastroenterologists…who deal only with pancreatic disease…along with a team of world-class pancreatic surgeons, medical oncologists, and experts from pathology, epidemiology, radiology, and research.”
Timely diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is crucial for improving quality of life and outcomes for patients with this devastating condition, and ongoing research into new treatment approaches may be good reason for optimism.
Video from Mayo Clinic Radio podcast on 12/22/2018
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