lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produce hormones that help manage your blood sugar.
Several types of growths can occur in the pancreas, including cancerous and noncancerous tumors. The most common type of cancer that forms in the pancreas begins in the cells that line the ducts that carry digestive enzymes out of the pancreas (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma).
Pancreatic cancer is seldom detected at its early stages when it’s most curable. This is because it often doesn’t cause symptoms until after it has spread to other organs.
Pancreatic cancer treatment options are chosen based on the extent of the cancer. Options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of these.
What are the symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?
Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. They may include:
- Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
- Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
- Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- Light-colored stools
- Dark-colored urine
- Itchy skin
- New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that’s becoming more difficult to control
- Blood clots
What causes the cancer?
Aretha had diabetes, which can raise the odds of pancreatic cancer in people who have had it for more than 5 years. Although it’s not clear if diabetes causes the cancer, long-standing diabetes can be considered a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. It causes a modest increase in the risk of 1.5- to two-fold. Some of the other risk factors for pancreatic cancer include smoking, chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), family history of pancreatic cancer, obesity, and certain genetic syndromes.
What are the prevention methods?
If you smoke, try to stop immediately. Talk to your doctor about strategies to help you stop, including support groups, medications, and nicotine replacement therapy. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
Also, prioritize maintaining a healthy weight. If you are at a healthy weight, work to maintain it. If you need to lose weight, aim for a slow, steady weight loss — 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. Combine daily exercise with a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains with smaller portions to help you lose weight.
Most importantly, a diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains may help reduce your risk of cancer.
BDO’s Black History of Health series is designed to show the correlation between the health of historical Black figures and Black Americans today. Many of the health disparities we currently experience have been in our community for centuries. This series is meant to bring these conditions to the forefront and provide Blacks with preventative and management steps to reduce these disparities and improve the overall health of the Black American community. It’s time to change the narrative.