Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month: What you need to know

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) is sharing important information many may not know about pancreatic cancer.

The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 9 percent and the disease kills more people than breast cancer in the U.S. Below is additional facts from PanCAN -- to learn more visit

• Pancreatic cancer recently moved from the fourth to the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., and is anticipated to become the second on approximately 2020.

• Pancreatic cancer is the ninth most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the 11th most commonly diagnosed in men.

• Risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer include family history of the disease, age, chronic or hereditary pancreatitis, smoking, obesity and long-standing diabetes.

• Pancreatic cancer may cause vague symptoms that could indicate many different conditions within the abdomen or gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include pain (usually abdominal or back pain), weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), loss of appetite, nausea, changes in stool and diabetes.

• The location of the pancreas deep in the abdominal cavity is a factor hindering early detection of pancreatic cancer.

• Surgical removal of the tumor is possible in approximately 15 percent of patients with adenocarcinoma, the most common type of pancreatic cancer.

• Chemotherapy or other drug therapies are typically offered to patients whose tumors cannot be removed surgically.

• There are complex biological features of a pancreatic tumor that distinguish it from many other cancer types.

• High-priority research areas being explored in pancreatic cancer include identifying biomarkers for early detection using registries of patients with a family history of pancreatic cancer, developing drugs that target specific gene mutations, understanding how the tumor microenvironment alters drug delivery and harnessing the immune system for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

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