On World Pancreatic Cancer Day, organisations, communities, and loved ones unite to show solidarity for victims of pancreatic cancer or demand a better fight against one of the world’s deadliest and most brutal cancers.
Every year, the third Thursday of November is commemorated as ‘World pancreatic Cancer Day.’ It is a global healthcare event that spreads awareness about the importance of the pancreas in life, understanding and prioritising the necessity of early pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as some prophylactic measures to avoid the ailment.
This year in 2022, ‘World pancreatic Cancer Day’ is being commemorated on November 17.
Pancreatic cancer grows in the pancreatic (an organ lying behind the lower part of the abdomen). It is a type of cancer that is diagnosed late, spreads exponentially, and often has a poor prognosis.
In this contemporary era, it is necessary to make the current and future generations aware of the early signs of the 14th most prevalent cancer and the 7th most prominent cause of cancer mortality worldwide, pancreatic Cancer.
It has also been reported that not only men but also women have increased incidences of pancreatic cancer. It’s high time now! People should know that the disease is spreading its wings continuously and they get to know of it only at the advanced stages where the treatment is also found to be ineffective.
Raising awareness on this special day as to what you do makes a huge impact.
‘World pancreatic Cancer Day’ theme
This year, the theme of World Pancreatic Cancer Day is ‘It’s About Time.’
The theme also indicates that there is a need to awaken the masses all over the world to know the pre-signs of occurrence of this tough cancer on time, diagnose and detect this severe illness through radiology and screening tests, or make certain lifestyle changes to avoid it in the first place. So that we can avoid the disease proceeding to the advanced stages or adopt preventive tips at the right time to diminish the growing incidence of pancreatic cancer.
Risk factors of pancreatic cancer
Although the exact cause and risk factors have not been identified, some research studies have found a list of certain risk factors which may cause pancreatic cancer, including:
- Family history
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Too much smoking
- Gender, more incidences in men than women
Moreover, the medical condition is also referred to as a ‘silent’ ailment because the disease is asymptomatic in its early phases. If symptoms are visible, they are often minor and vague to get ignored quite easily.
7 imperative pre-signs of pancreatic cancer one should know about to make an informed decision:
Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
Pain in the abdomen and mid-back may be due to a tumour which can be a common symptom of pancreatic cancer. Eventually, depending upon its location, cancer may be pushing against organs and nerves close to the pancreas, which may thereby block the digestive tract.
Bloating is a major issue when you are prone to pancreatic cancer. When a person feels bloated, it can cause several digestive problems, including diarrhoea, acidity, and indigestion, to name a few. Persistent bloating can lead to ascites which is also one of the most common signs of pancreatic cancer.
Ascites is a medical condition in which extra fluid builds up in the abdomen, causing the stomach to bulge or stretch out.
Trouble digesting food
Nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and loss of appetite are some of the familiar symptoms of almost every medical condition, however, this could be a sign of pancreatic cancer, in which the tumour interferes with the natural digestive processes. These symptoms affect a person’s ability to digest food and imbibe nutrients.
Persistent weight loss
Indigestion, loss of appetite, and weight loss are linked together. Incomplete digestion can occur due to cancer. Cancer-induced weight loss is an extremely serious problem that affects the natural digestion pathways of the body using calories and protein. pancreatic cancer can cause the body to use more calories than usual, leading to the breakdown of muscles and a reduced appetite.
Yellowish eyes and skin
Jaundice is a medical condition that causes yellowing of the skin and eyes due to the buildup of bilirubin, a component of the bile often secreted by the liver. This can also lead to pancreatic cancer because the tumour blocks bile production and interrupts the transport of bile from the gallbladder to the small intestine.
People with pancreatic cancer can also experience dark urine, itchy skin, and dark-coloured stools, all of which can be early symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
Changing the appearance of stool
When a person’s digestive system is upset, the stool may change appearance, becoming loose, watery, oily, or foul-smelling. All these textures are caused by an inappropriate amount of pancreatic enzymes in the small and large intestines.
In addition to diarrhoea, constipation can also be a problem if an individual has pancreatic cancer. Constipation occurs when the digestive system works too poorly causing the stools to be dry and hard, as a result, making it difficult to pass through the large intestine.
Getting diagnosed with Diabetes or quick change in Diabetes status
It has been reported through some research that a sudden onset of type 2 diabetes can be an early sign of pancreatic cancer, especially in people who have low body mass, who experience consistent weight loss, or who do not have a family history of diabetes.
Moreover, a sudden change in the blood sugar levels of patients with diabetes can also be a sign of pancreatic cancer.
‘With awareness, there is hope.’ World Pancreatic Cancer Day contributes to slowing down the rising incidences of mortality and even the number of cancer cases by raising awareness on this special day.
Know your presigns before the condition gets worse and takes you to a point of no return. Understand the early signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, detect and diagnose them at the earliest, and get treatment on time.
One can also make some necessary lifestyle changes, as mentioned below, that can keep pancreatic cancer at bay:
- Being in good shape, slender
- Quitting smoking and tobacco usage
- Alcohol consumption in moderation
- Consuming fewer preserved foods containing sodium
- Consuming less red and processed meat
- Consuming more fruits and veggies
Furthermore, people can also opt for genetic testing to know about any predisposed medical conditions in the body. Timely checkups can help a person keep track of his or her health status by evaluating body vitals so that one can take necessary preventive measures at the right time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. What does the purple ribbon symbolize?
A purple ribbon is most commonly used to raise awareness for many reasons including animal abuse, domestic violence, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and pancreatic cancer, to name a few.
Q2. What are some of the causes of pancreatic cancer?
Obesity, ageing, family history, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol are some of the common causes of pancreatic cancer.
Q3. Did Charlotte Rae survive pancreatic cancer?
Not. The woman passed away when she was 92 in the year 2018 and had publicly fought pancreatic cancer since 2009.
Q4. What put you at high risk for pancreatic cancer?
Obesity, diet, and alcohol can take you to higher risks of pancreatic cancer.
Q5. What is the number one cause of pancreatic cancer?
Tobacco use is one of the most high-risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
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Written by: Anjali Dharra