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Pancreas Cancers

Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the pancreas, a digestive organ that lies horizontally behind the lower part of your stomach and secretes enzymes that aid digestion, as well as hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars.
The disease often has a poor prognosis, even when diagnosed early. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it's a major cause of cancer death. Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and surgical removal is not possible.
Pancreatic cancer accounts for nearly 3% of all cancers newly diagnosed in the U.S. each year, but over 6% of all annual cancer deaths.
It is estimated that nearly 44,000 people will be newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S during 2012, of which roughly half will occur in males and half in females. Pancreatic cancer is largely a disease of older adults, in that 50% of cases will occur among persons aged 72 years and older. The remaining 50% of cases occur primarily in persons aged 45-71 years. Little is known about the causes of pancreatic cancer. Studies have identified several factors that appear to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, including the following:
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM)
  • Personal or family history of pancreatic cancer
You can learn about known and probable carcinogens from Known and Probable Human Carcinogens at www.cancer.org (external site).
Although there is no proven way to prevent pancreatic cancer, people can take steps to reduce their risk, including:
  • Do not smoke. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you smoke, quit. If you do smoke talk to your doctor about strategies for quitting. Medications and counseling are available to help you quit.
    You can also call the 1-800-QUIT NOW (1 800-784-8669) hotline to access cessation services available to New Mexicans. Services include sessions in English or Spanish, programs for adults and youth, free cessation items and a personal quit plan.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Exercise regularly and maintain a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables.
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Content updated: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 08:37:23 MST