World Pancreatic Cancer Day: Know Why It’s The Toughest Cancer

Pancreatic cancer has been called one of the deadliest cancers in the world. And it is at an all-time high. A study of 195 countries found that the number of pancreatic cancer cases increased by 130 per cent between 1990 and 2017.

“Pancreatic cancer is one of the world’s deadliest cancers, with an overall five-year survival rate of just five per cent in high, middle and low-income countries.”

Reza Malekzadeh, Leas author of the study and Professor at Tehran University, Iran

According to a Lancet study from October 2015, pancreatic cancer is the 13th most common cancer worldwide. Some known figures who suffered from this type of cancer include Steve Jobs, Alan Rickman and Joan Crawford. Dr Shubham Pant, Associate Professor of Medical Oncology at Houston, Texas, explains the disease in the video below.

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With an unusually high mortality rate, it is the eight most common cause of death from cancer. Over a quarter million people worldwide have lost their lives to it.

Dr Praveen Garg, Senior Consultant, Surgical Oncology, Apollo Hospital, says there are instances of five cases per 1 lakh of the population.

Lancet StudySurvival rates are among the worst for any tumor, with the mortality to incidence ratio of 98 percent. It is among the tumors with worst survival rates.

Also Read: Goa CM Manohar Parrikar Passes Away After Battle With Pancreatic Cancer

When it comes to India, the data on incidence is not that clear. Though this report puts it at 0.5–2.4 per 100,000 men and 0.2–1.8 per 100,000 women.

Why Is Pancreatic Cancer So Difficult to Treat?

What makes pancreatic cancer so dangerous is the lack of symptoms during early stages when it is most treatable, reports CNN.

Experts say, there are no screening tools specific to this kind of cancer. As a result, in many cases, the discovery of the disease gets delayed.

The detection is often confined to distinct symptoms like abdominal pain and jaundice.

If the cancer is detected early on, it can be controlled by surgical removal of the pancreas. However, the viability of this treatment varies from case to case and depends on how far the cancer has spread. The presence of microscopic tumour cells, left behind due to any reason after the surgery, can further cause the cancer to recur.

What Are Some Causes of Pancreatic Cancer?

  • Type 2 diabetes is a known cause for this kind of cancer.
  • Lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking also puts you at risk.
  • Other factors that could lead to pancreatic cancer include chronic pancreatitis and excess body weight.
  • One of the significant reasons behind pancreatic cancer include age.

A Lancet study says the risk is almost 20 times higher for individuals older than 50 years as compared to younger persons. As for other cancers, fewer than 10 percent of cases of pancreatic cancer occur among individuals younger than 55 years old, and the median age of onset is 71 years.

As is true of any form of cancer, age does make an individual more prone to pancreatic cancer, affirms Dr Garg.

Smoking, diabetes and genes are the most important factors when it comes to pancreatic cancer. Age could be another cause. Once people cross the age of 50, they are definitely more prone to it.

Men are more prone to pancreatic cancer than women.

Dr Subham Pant says that eating a clean diet, replete with fruits and vegetables and avoiding smoking completely is a good measure to protect yourself against pancreatic cancer.

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