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Shedding Light on Pancreatic Cancer

| Date Posted: 7/26/2012 | Author: Mandy McCue

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.   According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 44,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and 37,000 will die because of it.  Nearly 75 percent of pancreatic patients die within the first year of diagnosis.  The reason being is that the symptoms are difficult to recognize; therefore when it is detected it has reached advanced stages.  Some symptoms of pancreatic cancer include

  • upper abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • weight loss
  • jaundice
  • digestive problems
  • gallbladder enlargement
  • blood clots

The risk factors for pancreatic cancer are similar to most cancers. Smoking, obesity, diabetes and a family history of pancreatic cancer all could increase your chances of developing this type of cancer .Ways to reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer include, stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, and choose a healthy diet. (Source: Mayo Clinic)  After a new study from Australia was released last month, we could possibly add sunlight to the “reduce your risk” list.

Australian scientists led by Rachel Neale from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research compared 700 pancreatic cancer patients from Queensland, Australia to 700 people from the general public. The scientists looked at geographic location of birthplace, history of skin cancer, skin cancer type, tanning ability and susceptibility to sunburn.

The results showed that three of the factors examined, geographic location of birthplace, sun sensitive skin, and family history of skin cancer are associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer. The study concluded the following:

  • Those classified as having more sun-sensitive skin had a 49 percent reduced risk of pancreatic cancer.
  • Patients with a history of skin cancer had a 40 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer than those with no reported history.
  • Patients who were born in areas with high levels of UV radiation had a 24 percent lower risk for pancreatic Cancer than those born in areas of low UV radiation.

Dr. James D’Olimpio, director of palliative medicine/cancer pain and supportive oncology at Monter Cancer Center in Lake Success, N.Y., said that vitamin D, which is found in sunlight, is thought to cut the body’s inflammatory response and stimulate the immune system to work more efficiently, both of which could contribute to a lowered risk of cancer.

*This study and its findings are only preliminary and does not prove these factors can actually prevent pancreatic cancer. *

If you or someone you know has pancreatic cancer or symptoms of pancreatic cancer, call (910) 715-3500. FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital’s FirstHealth Cancer Services offers various treatments and support for pancreatic cancer patients and survivors in the Pinehurst, Sanford, Raeford, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Troy and Rockingham regions of NC and beyond.


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