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In a video message "Jeopardy!" Host Alex Trebek told fans that he would keep fighting and "beat the low survival statistics".
USA TODAY

It seems like you hear a lot about pancreatic cancer because some well-known people have announced that they are being treated for the disease.

Oakland County Chief Executive Officer L. Brooks Patterson announced this week that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Earlier this month, Alex Trebek, presenter at Jeopardy, told fans that he too is fighting the disease. Last summer, the Queen of Soul of Detroit, Aretha Franklin, succumbed to pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, as did Steve Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Apple. Actors Patrick Swayze and Michael Landon both died of pancreatic cancer.

It may also be that the incidence of pancreatic cancer is increasing.

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] Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press, Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

Although it is still considered a rare cancer – about 3 percent of all cancers – The incidence of pancreatic cancer has steadily increased in the United States for decades, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The higher number of cases is due to several factors, Dr. Philip Philip, Vice President of Medical Affairs, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center and Professor of Oncology and Pharmacology, Wayne State University School of Medicine.

People live longer, and cancer is usually more common in older populations. It is noteworthy, however, that obesity and diabetes are risk factors for pancreatic cancer and both of these conditions are increasing in the United States.

"It is on the rise and may be due to people who live longer and their lifestyles and probably reasons we have not discovered so far," he said.

The singer Aretha Franklin awards a song in honor of singer Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 MusiCares charity dinner in New York on February 23, 1998 as MusiCares Person of the Year for his humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors. The dinner benefited the MusiCares Foundation, which supports needy musicians with health and social services. The 40th Annual Grammy Awards will be presented on February 25, 1998 at Radio City Music Hall, New York. [19459019(Photo:FredProuserReuters)

The most common and deadly form of pancreatic cancer is adenocarcinoma, which accounts for 95 percent of all pancreatic cancers, Philip said. Neuroendocrine tumors account for the remaining 5 percent.

"Adenocarcinoma is much more aggressive than neuroendocrine tumors," he said. "Patients with neuroendocrine tumors live longer than patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, even if it is stage 4 or a metastatic disease (stage for comparisons).

Ms. Franklin and Mr. Jobs both had neuroendocrine diversity "Pancreatic cancer," we're really talking about adenocarcinoma. "

Only nine percent of patients with pancreatic cancer survive more than five years after diagnosis.

Due to its low survival rates, pancreatic cancer is well on its way to displacing colon cancer, becoming the second most common cause of cancer death by 2020, after lung cancer alone, according to pancreatic action network, a 501 (c) (3) Nonprofit organization that can spread awareness about pancreatic cancer as well as supporting patients, research and advocacy.

"The reason is that we have made great progress in healing with most other cancers, including lung cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer, and are developing treatments that can make patients" who has these cancers longer and sometimes longer, "said Philip. "What also helped with these cancers was early detection through screening tests such as colonoscopy, mammograms, etc. This has never been the case with pancreatic cancer, and the benefits of new therapies over the past two to three decades have been very modest.

But even though the five-year survival rate is 9 percent, Philip said it was still better than it was several decades ago, when just four percent of patients were five years old survived after diagnosis.

"We are just beginning to identify situations where individuals are at greater risk for developing pancreatic cancer, such as carrying a BRCA gene mutation or developing diabetes (less than a year). Thus, the cancer may be diagnosed in these patients at an early stage.

"The only time we have a cure test for this disease is if we diagnose it, if it is small and confined to the pancreas, especially if it has not spread to adjacent lymph nodes and the surgeon has a high level of A degree of skill and experience has removed the tumor without leaving any cells, less than one in five patients. "

He is most often diagnosed at the most advanced stage of the disease, as there are no screening tests for pancreatic carcinomas. Cancer exists for cancers of the colon, breast, lungs, of the cervix or the prostate, and also because the symptoms have already occurred, the disease is already advanced.

"We can not cure advanced diseases or our treatments prolong life very much in these situations," said Philip. "The reason is that we do not have much medication and progress has been modest or even marginal.

"We still do not understand the biology of the disease very well so we can develop better treatments."

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Oakland County Exec L. Brooks Patterson announces he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer Office in Waterford on March 26, 2019.
Kimberly P. Mitchell, Detroit Free Press

The only way to learn more about the disease and find better treatments is to conduct more research and clinical trials, Philip said. However, he said, less than 5 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer are taking part in studies.

"Other Western European countries are better than us," he said. "This aspect of education and public awareness must be emphasized very much."

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Although people with early pancreatic carcinoma can show no signs or symptoms, people with advanced disease according to the American Cancer Society have the following symptoms:

  • Jaundice: The yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • Dark urine and light or oily stools: Caused by bilirubin levels in the blood.
  • Itchy Skin: Also caused by increased bilirubin levels.
  • Abdominal or back pain. Abdominal or back pain caused by cancer, which grows on other organs and nerves and presses and causes pain.
  • Lose weight, do not feel hungry: loss of appetite and unwanted weight loss.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Gall bladder and / or liver enlargement
  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes

To learn more about pancreatic cancer, visit the website of the pancreatic cancer network: https://www.pancan.org/[19659049ContactYouCristJordanShamus:[email protected]@Cristenshamus

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