Pancreatic Cancer is sometimes called the “silent” or the “worst” cancer because it is seldom detected in its early stages. When this cancer is detected in a patient it is usually in a latter or advanced stage and the chances of survival are low. So what is the pancreas and what are the symptoms of the “worst” cancer – pancreatic cancer?
The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach that is tasked with some very important functions for the human body. First, it produces various enzymes that are necessary for the proper digestion of food. Second, it produces various hormones including insulin, which is critical for the proper use of sugars and starches in food. When the pancreas can not function properly (pancreatic cancer) the results are usually lethal.
Pancreatic cancer will grow and spread to other organs and other parts of the body if undetected and untreated. Generally the first symptoms are pain in the abdomen and/or back. The pain can vary and some patients have reported that the pain increases after eating or lying down. Other common symptoms are depression, jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes), loss of appetite, vomiting and/or nausea, loss of weight, bowel complaints, light-colored stool, and general fatigue.
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of pancreatic cancer but they have identified risk factors. If one or more of these risk factors is present in an individual then he/she has a higher risk or probability of developing pancreatic cancer.
The best way to protect yourself from this very lethal cancer is to eliminate as many of the risk factors as possible. You can’t change your age but you can certainly change your diet and quit smoking. And don’t forget to exercise on a regular basis.