Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer – any symptom that is exclusive to pancreatic cancer only shows up in the last pair of stages of the disease. It’s also a silent judge in a way – the disease pops up primarily from smoking tobacco, drinking, or obesity. Symptoms look like many other pancreas-based diseases: jaundice, weight loss, abdominal pain. The disease humiliates as it destroys, pushing the victim from good health to a genuinely frightening specter of incoming death. Over 400,000 people died last year from pancreatic cancer, showing a need for better testing conditions very quickly. The current testing options range from CT scans to MRI’s and cholangiopancreatography (individual scans of the pancreas and gallbladder). None of these options are 100% accurate and all have the risk of their own complications. This is part of the issue with cancer research – rarely does one unified choice emerge as the best option. Ditto for treatment – surgery is only usable in 20% of total cases, and even then, its effect can be indeterminable sometimes. The most common surgery option is the Whipple procedure, a delightfully named operation that involves removing the head of the pancreas as well as most of the duodenum along with the gallbladder for the sake of connecting the pancreas to the stomach differently. This is a major operation and is still the least invasive of many of the procedures for pancreatic cancer. Chemotherapy is grueling for all involved, and general radiotherapy has been shown to be mostly ineffective. So, what is there to do? Generate more awareness and more funding! Show the world you care with a purple wristband!
Source: Gainsville Times
Written by Michele Wheat