November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 5:25 PM CST
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LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and the observance color is purple.

It’s held each year to remember those who lost their fight against the deadly disease and shed light on finding a cure.

According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer has surpassed breast cancer and is now the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country.

However, there is hope and research is underway using targeted therapies that can help increase the overall survival rate of pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Sandeep Singh is the Medical Director of the Cancer Center at South Central Regional Medical Center, and he said the disease can be difficult to identify and there are many risk factors involved.

About 10 percent of the diagnoses are hereditary, while the disease may also have links to diet, smoking and obesity.

However, not all trigger mechanisms are fully understood but warning signs include unexpected weight loss, nausea, yellowing of the eyes and pain near the rib cage and extending towards the back.

Anyone experiencing these types of symptoms is urged to visit their family doctor.

Diabetes and pancreatic cancer are also believed to be related, and the onset of diabetes in someone who is healthy may be an indication of the early stages of pancreatic cancer.

According to Dr. Singh, the battle against the disease is ongoing but advancements have been made over the years giving hope where none existed before, including personalized therapies given prior to surgery.

“Because of these personalized cancer treatments, I have seen that the percentages of pancreatic cancer deaths decrease and the survival rate over five years has improved from 5-10 percent to 20-25 percent,” said Dr. Singh.

“There is a good sense of hope that we are now progressing in pancreatic cancer treatment,” he added.

By the end of 2021, an estimated 60,400 Americans will have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States and more than 48,220 people will have died.

Medical research and sustainable funding play a crucial role in the search for a cure, but in the meantime, education along with early detection is key for increasing survival rates against the disease.

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