Page 6 - Senior Times South Central Michigan January 2021 - 28-01
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Page 6 Senior Times - January 2021
By: Timothy Cox, MD FACP
  Last year, longtime host of Jeopardy, Alex Trebek, lost his life to pancre-
atic cancer. He was not alone. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 47,050 addi- tional people lost their life
overweight or obese, may also put you at
to family history and specific genetic syn- dromes, your doctor can run tests to look
for these inherited conditions. If you are considering genetic testing, the American Cancer Society strongly recommends talking with your primary care provider or a genetic counselor before getting tested. It’s important to understand what the tests can − and can’t − tell you, and what results might mean.
 to this disease in 2020. Dr. Timothy Cox, medical oncologist at Bronson Oncology & Hematology Specialists, offers the following advice to help identify pancreatic cancer before it aggressively spreads to other areas of the body.
yet known, pancreatic cancer is more com- mon in people with type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is increasing in children and adolescents as obesity in these age groups also rises.
What is pancreatic cancer? Pancreatic cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer. The pancreas is an organ located deep within in the abdomen. It helps with digestion, and produces hormones, including insulin.
• Workplace exposure: Heavy exposure to certain chemicals used in the dry cleaning and metalworking industries may raise the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Quit the habit − If you’re a smoker, breaking the habit now is important. Bronson respiratory therapists are available for one- on-one smoking cessation support and infor- mation. To learn more about these services in Battle Creek, call (269) 245-8438.
The average age of pancreatic cancer diagnosis is 70 years old. Identifying pan- creatic cancer as early as possible is cru- cial. Depending on prognosis, the type of pancreatic cancer, and your own personal decisions, pancreatic cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radia- tion treatment.
In addition to the lifestyle risk factors listed above, there are also risk factors that cannot be changed. Pancreatic cancer is slightly more common in men and in African Americans. Almost all pancreatic cancer diagnosis are in people over age 45, and the average age of diagnosis is 70 years old.
an increased risk.
• Type 2 diabetes: Though the reason is not
• Chronic pancreatitis: Chronic pancreatitis is the long-term inflammation of the pan- creas. This is a condition that can develop if you smoke or consume heavy amounts of alcohol.
Pancreatic cancer treatment options – Catching pancreatic cancer as early as possi- ble is crucial, as survival rates increase when it hasn’t aggressively spread to other organs. Depending on prognosis, the type of pancre- atic cancer and your own personal decisions, pancreatic cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment.
   Slightly more common in men than women, the American Cancer Society found pancreatic cancer accounts for about three percent of all cancers in the US, and about seven percent of all cancer deaths in the US. Although cases are not incredibly common, it is often caught late, resulting in a higher death rate. Annually, an estimated 57,600 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Additionally, certain inherited genetic syn- dromes are thought to be linked to pancreatic cancer, including the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (also related to breast and ovarian can- cer), the p16/CDKN2A gene (often associ- ated with skin and eye melanomas), and the STK11 gene (also linked with polyps in the digestive tract and several other cancers).
What are some risk factors? The average risk of developing pancreatic cancer is about one in 64. Although it can affect anybody, there are some risk factors that can increase your chance of developing the disease.
• Smoking: Smoking is the greatest risk
After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Stacey’s father chose Bronson Cancer Center in Battle Creek for his chemotherapy treatment. You can read about their expe- rience with his cancer treatment team at amazing-team-it-makes-my-heart-happy.
factor for developing pancreatic cancer.
In fact, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is twice as high for smokers com- pared to non-smokers. It is estimated that about 25 percent of pancreatic cancer cases are caused from cigarette smoking. Cigar smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco can also increase your risk.
This is the first warning sign most people
Nationally recognized cancer care – If you receive a pancreatic cancer diagno-
sis and choose to pursue a treatment plan, state-of-the-art care isn’t far away. Bronson Cancer Center in Battle Creek is accredited by the Commission on Cancer and has been recognized nationally for patient safety.
• Obesity or carrying excess weight around the waistline: If you have a BMI over 30, you are at a 20 percent increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Additionally, carrying extra weight in your abdomen, even if you are not considered
notice with pancreatic cancer!
• Dark urine
• Light-colored or greasy stools
• Itchy skin
• Pain in the abdomen or back
• Unexplained weight loss, poor appetite,
The center offers the latest in technology and medicine to help you get back to the life you love. Ask your primary care provider for a referral. Learn more about cancer
What are the signs of pancreatic cancer? The pancreas is located deep inside your abdomen and is covered by other organs, like the stomach and intestines. Because of this, tumors cannot be seen or felt by your doctor during routine physical exams. People usually have little to no symp- toms until the cancer has become very large or has spread to other organs. Because of this, it is very important to look out for spe- cific warning signs. Though these warning signs are often related to other medical con- ditions. You should talk to your primary care provider immediately if you experience:
• Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin):
“What an amazing team! It makes my heart happy.”
nausea, and/or vomiting
Pancreatic cancer screening options
care services in southwest Michigan at
– No screening tests or exams are suggest- ed for those at average risk for pancreatic cancer. If you are at an increased risk due
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