It is not my intention to discourage you with this story because I believe life needs to be enjoyed to its fullest. But I also like to be real and call it the way it is with factual information. This blog is motivated by what I’ve noticed going on recently within our community and healthcare in general. First of all, an important question needs to be asked; why should people lose their lives prematurely as if life is nothing to be tossed like garbage? Recently a 41-year-old woman lost her life, few years ago my coworker in her early fifties also lost her life and earlier this year a young man in his forties lost his life to the same condition. The common sickness among all of these people is that they were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Their death happened within few months just after their diagnosis without giving enough time for therapy. I would imagine some of you may’ve heard about or even know someone who died from pancreatic cancer shortly after the diagnosis. My investigation into this problem reveals a terrible scenario; with pancreatic cancer by the time doctors make the diagnosis the cancer has already advance to late stages.
Let’s see what’s happening with the pancreas which is turning into a “lethal weapon” for human lives. What is the Pancreas? The pancreas is a vital organ or gland about six inches long shaped like a thin pear lying on its side between the stomach and the spine. It is vital because of the important functions it performs in the human body. It releases enzymes that help us digest the food we eat and the hormones that control the sugar in our body. If your Pancreas is damaged you’re in big trouble because your system will not work properly leading to the demise of the body cells and ultimately death.
What causes pancreatic cancer?
It is so unfortunate that despite the advancement in medicine and healthcare the cause of this cancer is still unknown but there are risk factors that may lead to the disease. The risk factors for getting pancreatic cancer are the following:
- Genetic – This is related to your family history. It is not absolute that if you have family history of pancreatic cancer you will get it but just be aware that family history gives you a higher probability than a person who doesn’t have the family history. When we speak of family history it means a member of your immediate family being diagnosed of the cancer in the past. It is also possible that with passage of time people may not even remember or be aware of family history through the ages, that of great grandparents, distant uncles, aunts, et cetera.
- Diabetes – Are you diabetic or prediabetic? That is a risk factor implicated.
- Chronic inflammation – Pancreatitis or chronic inflammation of the pancreas predisposes an individual to pancreatic cancer.
- Obesity – If you’re overweight or obese that is a high-risk factor.
- Smoking- Are you a smoker? Just be aware of the link with pancreatic cancer which is not good.
- Old age – This is a risk we can’t avoid. Pancreatic cancer affects older people over 65 years old than younger people.
Signs & Symptoms: The following are the things that may indicate the possibility of pancreatic cancer. Please know that some of these signs and symptoms are also implicated in other disease conditions.
- Loss of appetite with weight loss for no reason – You chronically don’t feel like eating and you’re losing weight without even trying.
- Blood clots – Whenever you have blood clot that is not normal so it needs to be checked out by qualified medical professional.
- Fatigue – Are you chronically feeling tired? A lot of things may make you feel this way so it is important to know the reason especially if the fatigue lasts longer than normal.
- Pain in upper abdomen radiating to the back – This unusual pain is a bad sign that requires further evaluation.
- Depression – Being depressed is not without a cause including possible pancreatic cancer.
- Dark urine – Your urine should never be dark in color, it could be a bad sign of a major illness.
- Yellowing of skin and the whites of the eyes – This is called jaundice and a possible sign of a damaged pancreas.
Prevention: These are things that are recommended for you to help prevent pancreatic cancer.
- Stop smoking – Despite all the warnings do you still smoke? Here’s another reason to stop smoking; it helps to prevent all kinds of cancer including pancreatic.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Since overweight is a risk factor it makes sense to reduce weight and keep a healthy weight through exercise.
- Healthy diet – Watch what you eat, add more fruits, vegetables and whole grain in your diet.
- Regular medical checkup – If you’re missing this life-saving responsibility you owe it to yourself to have annual medical checkup with your personal physician. This allows your doctor and you to monitor any changes in your health and help in early detection of any illness including pancreatic cancer.