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Pancreatic cancer....My chances

By Anonymous July 23, 2014 - 9:52am
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Both my mother and father died horrible deaths from pancreatic cancer. Neither of them smoked or lived an unhealthy lifestyle (my mother's family lived into their 90's; my father was a mountaineer). My father died at age 70; my mother a year ago at 80. Their pancreatic cancers came on so suddenly, transforming them from vigorous good health to absolute physical failure within 6 weeks of diagnosis. It was more than traumatic to see how this cancer ravaged them.

What are the chances I will die from this disease...my children too. I am 56 and am in good health with healthy lifestyle habits.
Thank you for any and all information.

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Hello Joyce,

I can appreciate your concern.

Typically, pancreatic cancer spreads rapidly and is rarely detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it's a leading cause of cancer death. Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and complete surgical removal isn't possible.

You are at risk for developing this disease. Factors that may increase a person's risk for pancreatic cancer include:
African-American race
Excess body weight
Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM)
Personal or family history of pancreatic cancer

Joyce, talk with your physician about pancreatic screening services available in your area. The University of Chicago School of Medicine offers a customized approach to early detection of pancreatic cancer.

In this program, each patient speaks with an advanced practice nurse navigator to discuss prior health concerns, family medical history and previous diagnostic tests. If appropriate, the patient may be scheduled for a diagnostic 3-D CT scan or MRI that will be interpreted by a radiologist who specializes in pancreatic disease. These tests can be conveniently scheduled to occur the same day as the clinic evaluation.


July 25, 2014 - 4:58pm
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