Living with Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is cancer of the pancreas, the organ that aids digestion in the small intestine and regulates blood sugar. There are two types of pancreatic cancer: exocrine tumors form in exocrine cells, which produce enzymes that break down food; endocrine tumors form in endocrine cells, which produce the hormones insulin and glucagon. Exocrine tumors are far more common than endocrine tumors, and more frequently malignant. Approximately 44,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States; five-year survival rates vary greatly depending on the stage at which the cancer is caught.

Smoking and obesity are considered risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer, and a patient's likelihood of developing the disease increases with age. Patients generally do not present symptoms until the later stages of the disease. When pancreatic cancer symptoms do occur, they may include yellowing of the eyes and skin, abdominal and back pain, dark urine, pale stool, weight loss, and fatigue. The stages of pancreatic cancer range from I to IV, depending on tumor size and how widely it has spread. Pancreatic cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these.

For more information on pancreatic cancer, read the American Cancer Society's detailed guide.

If you have been affected by pancreatic cancer, please be sure to take some time to read others' experiences, share your own experiences, and ask or answer questions.

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