Causes and symptoms of pancreatic cancer have been talked about a lot recently with Jeopardy host Alex Trebek and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg both being treated for Pancreatic cancer over the last year. They both seem to have been doing well on their treatments and we wish them well in their battle.

Each year, more than 55,000 Americans are diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas. No one knows if or when the disease will develop, but understanding the risk factors for pancreatic cancer may help you take measures to reduce the likelihood of getting the disease.

Causes of Pancreatic Cancer

  • Age – over 55
  • Men seem to be more susceptible than women
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Smoking
  • Genetic factors

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is often referred to as the “silent” disease because the symptoms are rarely noticed in the early stages. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network recommends that anyone experiencing one or more of these symptoms speak to a doctor like one at Digestive Care Physicians.

  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Having trouble digesting food
  • Losing weight without a reason
  • Skin and eyes look yellow
  • Stools are changing, diarrhea, constipation
  • Sudden change in blood sugar levels in diabetes or those who have had a sudden change from well-controlled diabetes.

Treatment

The doctors at Digestive Care Pgysicians diagnose and treat patients with Pancreatitis:

  • Acute: Acute Pancreatitis comes on quickly and can be treated with antibiotics. A common cause is a gallstone block, also known as Gallstone Pancreatitis. It may range from mild discomfort to a severe, life-threatening illness. Most people with Acute Pancreatitis recover completely after getting the right treatment.
  • Chronic: Chronic Pancreatitis is long-lasting inflammation of the Pancreas that has to be managed over time. It most often happens after an episode of Acute Pancreatitis. Heavy alcohol drinking is another big cause. Damage to the Pancreas from heavy alcohol use may not cause symptoms for many years, but then the person may suddenly develop severe Pancreatitis symptoms.

If your doctor suspects pancreatic cancer, he or she may have you undergo one or more of the following tests:

  • Pancreatic Function Test
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI
  • Diagnostic ERCP
  • Biopsy