Are you aware of these pancreatic cancer signs?

Are you aware of these pancreatic cancer signs?

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the average lifetime risk of pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 64, but each person’s chances of getting this cancer can be affected by certain risk factors.

This week, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek announced he’d have to undergo another round of chemotherapy as he battles pancreatic cancer.

What makes this cancer so deadly is that people usually have no symptoms until the cancer has surrounded critical blood vessels. But, knowing the signs and symptoms can help.

Dr. John Brems, a liver and pancreatic cancer surgeon at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill., explains how diabetes can be a big warning sign.

“There appears to be an association with new onset diabetes and pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Brems says. “Therefore, I would recommend that anybody who has been newly diagnosed with diabetes be evaluated for possible pancreatic cancer.”

Other symptoms to be on the lookout for:

  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Belly or back pain
  • Nausea
  • Gallbladder or liver enlargement

“Pancreatic cancer affects all socioeconomic classes and all ethnic groups. It continues to increase in numbers and in mortality,” Dr. Brems says. “Therefore, patients with new onset diabetes and weight loss should be evaluated for possible pancreatic cancer. In addition, if they have a family history of pancreatic cancer, they should be followed very closely for this disease.

“If it is diagnosed early, it can be cured by surgical resection followed by chemotherapy,” he says.

To learn more about pancreatic cancer, click here if you live in Illinois. Click here if you live in Wisconsin.

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Megan O'Dwyer

Megan O'Dwyer, health enews contributor, is a public affairs specialist on the integrated marketing team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in advertising from Iowa State with a minor in event management. In her free time, Megan enjoys traveling, cooking the latest recipes and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.