Pancreatic cancer cases on rise, report says
Almost always deadly and steadily on the rise, pancreatic cancer is on track to become the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the nation within the next two years, according to a recent report.
Currently the fourth-leading cancer killer — and the reason behind the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs at 56 — pancreatic cancer will likely surpass breast, prostate and colorectal cancers to rank behind only lung cancer, the No. 1 cancer killer, said the report from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
The higher ranking is partly because risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer are trending up, while deaths from the other top cancer killers are trending down, said Dr. Bose Debashish, a pancreatic cancer surgeon at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, Fla.
The incidence of pancreatic cancer has been rising 1.5 percent each year since 2004, according to the American Cancer Society. At the current rate, one in every 71 Americans will develop the disease in his or her lifetime.
One of the risk factors fueling the upward trend is Americans' lengthening life spans. Nearly 90 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are older than 55, and more than 70 percent are older than 65, according to the cancer society.
Increasing rates of obesity and diabetes have contributed to the trend, Debashish said, as has smoking, which doubles or triples the risk.
What distinguishes this killer is that it's the only top cancer with a survival rate in the single digits: Just 6 percent of those who are diagnosed with it are alive in five years.
“Everyone who gets pancreatic cancer will likely die of it,” Debashish said.
By the time the cancer presents with symptoms, he said, 85 percent of patients are not candidates for surgical correction.
Complicating treatment further, tumors in the pancreas — an essential organ responsible for producing insulin and aiding digestion — don't respond well to available chemotherapy agents.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include jaundice (which causes the skin to turn yellow), dark urine, a chalky stool, pain in the abdomen above the navel and unexplained weight loss, Debashish said.
Some astute physicians spot the disease when a normal-weight patient develops sudden-onset diabetes, he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 1 Marine killed, 9 hurt in helicopter hard landing
- U.S. Catholics at odds with church, survey finds
- World population of trees to people: 422 to 1, team finds
- Army fully opens Ranger School to female soldiers
- Judge clears way for revival of NSA wiretap suit
- Sasquatch sighting! Maine police say Bigfoot artist nabbed
- Baltimore officers on track for trial
- Clinton: Women ‘expect’ extremism from terrorists, not GOP candidates
- Compatibility of 1st-responder radios in doubt
- Obama marks Hurricane Katrina anniversary in New Orleans visit
- Common Core test results released