Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month is here! Every November we take time to honor individuals diagnosed with this terrible disease. We also use this time to promote pancreatic cancer prevention as with all cancers, catching cancer early is vital.

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which the pancreas, a gland behind the stomach and in front of the spine used to regulate blood sugar, is invaded with cancerous cells.

Why is it so deadly?

The reason this disease is so deadly is because symptoms normally don’t appear until after the tumor has progressed and has spread to other parts of the body or metastasized. At this point, only about 10 to 15 percent of individuals who are diagnosed are eligible for surgery to remove the tumor. Even with surgery to remove the pancreas, 85 percent of patients relapse.

Cancer Patient and Friend

How can you prevent pancreatic cancer?

As with most cancers, there are risk factors that can be controlled and ones that can’t. While we can’t control factors such as our race, age, or gender, we can control how we take care of our body. The number one controllable risk factor for pancreatic cancer is tobacco use. In fact, if you smoke, you’re twice as likely to be diagnosed. Additionally, weight loss plays a major role in your chance of getting it. According to the American Cancer Society, those who are considered to be obese are 20% more likely to be diagnosed.

How do I get involved?

If you’d like to be an advocate for pancreatic cancer fighters and survivors, there are many things you can do:

  • Wear Purple. Whether it be your coworkers, sports team members, or your neighbors, get a group together and designate a day to wear all purple.
  • Give Time or Funds. Support a pancreatic cancer nonprofit organization such as The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan) by volunteering or donating to them.
  • Write a Letter. The lack of cancer research funding is a huge issue within the cancer community. Write a letter to your elected officials to let them know you would like to see more funding go towards cancer research.

Learn more about the ways we assist cancer patients!