In light of November being the national month for pancreatic cancer awareness, we wanted to briefly review some facts about pancreatic cancer. First, a bit of anatomy… the pancreas is an organ that sits in the abdomen in the lower part of the stomach whose primary function is to aid in digestion of food to help the body absorb nutrients. Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive type of cancer that develops in the pancreas and often manifests in two specific glands of the pancreas:
Typically, the cancer is seen first as tumors in the exocrine glands and it usually grows rather aggressively there. In some cases, tumors develop in the endocrine glands but these are often benign. However, tumors in the endocrine glands can cause potential hormonal issues throughout the body if they turn cancerous.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer are hard to detect in the early stages and can differ based on which type of cells are affected in the pancreas. The most common symptoms are: jaundice (a yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes), digestive problems, nausea or vomiting, upper abdominal pain which can go into the back, diabetes or complications thereof, sudden weight loss, blood clots and even a swollen gallbladder. If you or anyone you know seem to be experiencing these symptoms for an extended period of time or if any of them seem overly intense, we would strongly encourage you to give your primary care physician a call to have them checked out. Pancreatic cancer is extremely serious and like most cancers, earlier detection can be mean more effective treatment.
By: Cole Dreyer, BS, ACSM-HFS, Fitness Specialist/Personal Trainer at Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center
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