November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

November is a month for inspiration, education, and empowerment in communities worldwide that have been affected by pancreatic cancer. For those at Zenith Family Health, this is our chance to bring awareness to the disease and inspire others to take action.

Like all cancers, early detection of pancreatic cancer can save lives. Therefore, learning about the symptoms, risk factors, and facts of pancreatic disease is essential. Doing this can lead to early detection, encourage healthy lifestyle choices, and guide you on when to seek genetic counseling.

What Is the Pancreas?

The pancreas is an organ about 6 inches long, located between the stomach and spine. It also has both endocrine (or secretion) functions. This means it releases proteins into the bloodstream. Furthermore, the endocrine function includes the production of the blood sugar-regulating hormones insulin and glucagon. It releases digestive juices (also known as digestive, pancreatic, or pancreatic enzymes) into the small intestine through its exocrine function.

Pancreatic Cancer Facts

Pancreatic cancer starts in the cells in the pancreas.

Two types of pancreatic carcinoma exist:

Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma (PDAC)

This is the most common form of pancreatic cancer and accounts for about 95 percent of all cases. PDAC occurs when tumors develop in the exocrine tissue of the pancreas.

Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)

This is the less common form of pancreatic cancer. It occurs in the hormone-producing endocrine cells or islet cells. The median age at diagnosis for neuroendocrine tumors is often younger and has a better prognosis.
According to the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER), there will be an estimated 62,210 pancreatic cancer patients in the United States and 49,830 deaths due to these cancers by 2022.

Pancreatic cancer is the third most common cause of death from cancer in this country, after lung and colon cancer.

Symptoms And Signs

While the cause of pancreatic cancer is often random, certain factors can put you at risk. Also, there are some signs and symptoms to be aware of.

Risk Factors

A few risk factors that can make you susceptible to pancreatic cancer are age, obesity, smoking, diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, and a family history of pancreatic cancer.

If you have a history of these health issues, it's important to consult your Zenith doctor.


The symptoms of pancreatic cancer include stomach pain, mid-back pain, sudden weight loss, indigestion, jaundice, new onset diabetes, and changes in your stool.

The main symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be vague or seem like other health problems; however, it's important to be vigilant for any change in your health. Therefore, healthcare should be a priority.

Talk to your Zenith healthcare provider if you have experienced any of these symptoms or think you may be at increased risk for pancreatic carcinoma.