According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 43,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. Most often, pancreatic cancer starts in the ducts that carry pancreatic enzymes, also referred to as exocrine pancreatic cancer.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Weight loss
Risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer include:
- Genetics: family history of a first-degree relative with pancreatic cancer at a young age
- Chronic inflammation of the pancreas, also known as, chronic pancreatitis
When to See a Doctor
If you have any symptoms you are concerned about or if your symptoms persist, it’s time to see a doctor. Screening for pancreatic cancer is not routine and requires the expertise of a physician who has been trained to evaluate and diagnose conditions affecting the pancreas.
Treatment options for individuals with pancreatic cancer vary and may include the following:
- Radiation therapy
- Any combination of the above treatments
The foremost diagnostic “test” for any condition is a thorough exam and consultation with a physician, including a review of your individual and family history. In addition, your physician may recommend any of the following tests or procedures, which may provide further diagnostic value:
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
- Imaging tests (which may include one or more of the following: ultrasound, x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan)
- Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
If you are in a genetic risk group or have a pancreatic cyst that requires regular monitoring, you may be able to prevent pancreatic cancer from developing with proper medical supervision and/or treatment.
Learn more about pancreatic cancer with resources from the National Cancer Institute