More than 53,000 US citizens get diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during the span of one year. Among them, more than 15,000 will die due to this condition. In recent years, medicine has made progress in finding cures or treatments for different types of cancers. Unfortunately, they haven’t made much progress—or any at all—regarding pancreatic cancer. For the last four decades, doctors and this cancer have been in a stalemate, with the advantage being on the side of this vicious disease.
What Is the Average Life Expectancy for a Person With Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the United States. Only 8% of diagnosed patients survive five years. 71% of those who get a pancreatic cancer diagnosis only survive one year. Doctors have estimated that by 2030, pancreatic cancer will be the number two killer of all cancer deaths. If you get diagnosed with this cancer, and it spreads to surrounding organs and lymph nodes, you only have three, or at most six, months to live.
Why Is Pancreatic Cancer So Deadly?
There are two reasons why this cancer is so deadly. For one, it spreads very aggressively. It has shown more aggression than any other cancer. In addition to this, we also don’t know much about it compared to other cancers and tumors. Today, most cancers are understood to some extent. Regarding pancreatic cancer, we only know that the risk of developing it comes from smoking and family medical history. Other factors that could contribute to the development of this cancer are diabetes, chronic pancreas inflammation, and a high-fat diet.
How Long Does It Take for Pancreatic Cancer to Develop?
The good news is that doctors and scientists haven’t stopped working on discovering what makes this cancer so deadly. A study conducted by The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins analyzed cells from infected cancer patients who died due to this condition. The patients who they selected were the ones whose cancer spread to other areas of the body. They have concluded that it took this cancer seven years to become visible, and another three to reach its metastatic phase. Because of this, doctors reached a conclusion that, despite its deadliness, there is a time span in which they could develop screenings that could discover this cancer in the early stages of development.
What Are the Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer?
There are many symptoms that point to this cancer. Some of them include itching, weight loss, abdominal pain, and jaundice. The downside of these symptoms is that they can lead to various other conditions of our gastrointestinal tract or the abdomen. Even with these symptoms, doctors will usually look for different outcomes, rather than for pancreatic cancer. What’s even worse is that you will only have these symptoms when the cancer is in its later stages of development. If this cancer is discovered too late, there aren’t many treatments left, and most of them don’t guarantee survival or even more years ahead of the patient.
Importance of Early Detection
According to research, it takes time for pancreatic cancer to develop. It won’t appear overnight. It takes around seven years for it to develop fully. It takes even more for it to start spreading through your body. If you discover some of the symptoms in time, and start with screenings after suspecting pancreatic cancer, you can give doctors a chance to diagnose this cancer in the early stages.
But even with early detection, the only solution for removal of this cancer is through surgery. If the cancer has not spread to other organs, you can shrink it through chemotherapy and then remove it. But even doing this, positive results are not guaranteed, as the surgery is complicated, lasts up to eight hours, and requires removing much of your intestine.
Featured Image Source: www.pixabay.com