November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month — here’s what your workforce should know about the disease, its risk factors, and how primary care providers can help them prioritize preventative health measures for the long term.
WHAT IS PANCREATIC CANCER?
Pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells in the pancreas, located between the stomach and the spine, grow abnormally and form a tumor. Pancreatic cancer is the 11th most diagnosed cancer in the United States. According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, more than 60,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2021. Data from the American Cancer Society shows that about 48,220 Americans will die of pancreatic cancer in 2021.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer may include:
- Tobacco use: This is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for pancreatic cancer, and quitting smoking can help reduce the risk.
- Obesity: People with a BMI greater than 30 are at higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Losing weight and increasing physical activity may help reduce this risk.
- Diabetes: Both type I and type II diabetic patients have an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
- Chronic pancreatitis: ongoing inflammation of the pancreas, commonly caused by long-term, heavy alcohol use, can increase risk this cancer.
- Diet: some studies have shown an association between heavy consumption of red meat and processed meats and pancreatic cancer.
- Age: Almost all patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are over the age of 60.
- Family history: Pancreatic cancer seems to run in some families. If an individual has a first-degree relative diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, they may have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
- Gender: Men are slightly more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
- Race: Black Americans are slightly more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
- Exposure to workplace chemicals: Those who work in the metal working or dry cleaning industries may be at increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include:
- Jaundice, or the yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Abdominal or back pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unintended weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pancreatitis, or inflammation and pain of the pancreas
- Sudden-onset diabetes as an adult
CAN PANCREATIC CANCER BE PREVENTED?
It’s important to note that there is no way to prevent pancreatic cancer, though there are measures that can be taken to decrease one’s risk of developing it.
Primary care providers can work with their patients to enact and enforce healthy habits such as smoking cessation, reducing excessive alcohol use, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the amount of processed food and drinks in one’s diet, and limiting alcohol use.
To learn more about how Eden’s primary care providers prioritize preventative health measures, request a demo today.
This blog is intended to be informational in nature. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your Care Team or other healthcare provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials.