November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month; know the signs and symptoms

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Pancreatic cancer is a fatal disease that is rarely detected at an early stage.

It is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

It is estimated that by the end of this year, more than 60,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and more than 48,000 will die from it.

The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not yet fully understood.

Factors that increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer include diabetes, smoking, chronically inflamed pancreas, family history of genetic disorders that can increase cancer risk, family history of pancreatic cancer, and advanced age.

Additional factors that may increase the risk include consuming a diet rich in red or processed meats and obesity.

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Dr. The previous three columns of Mithras:

Pancreatic cancer begins in the pancreas, an organ in the abdomen located behind the lower part of the stomach.

The pancreas has two main functions: It makes digestive enzymes such as amylase and lipase; It also produces hormones like insulin that control how our body stores and uses glucose – sugar, the body’s primary source of energy.

There are two types of pancreatic cancer: exocrine and endocrine.

Exocrine cancer accounts for about 95 percent of all cases.

Endocrine cancer is also known as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors or islet cell tumors.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma represents approximately 85 percent of all pancreatic neoplasms.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma begins in ductal cells that deliver digestive enzymes produced by pancreatic cells to the duodenum.

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While some of these risk factors may be out of your control, here are some lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk:

If you smoke, try to quit. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation strategies, including medications, support groups, and nicotine replacement therapy.

Work to maintain a healthy diet. Get daily aerobic exercise with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which can reduce your cancer risk.

Common symptoms in patients with exocrine pancreatic cancer are fatigue, unintentional weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, dark urine, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, greasy stools, and back pain.

The signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer typically do not appear until the disease has progressed.

The condition is rarely detected in its early stages, where it is most curable.

Early detection helps save lives. So learn and share the facts, symptoms and risk factors of pancreatic cancer, motivate healthy choices, and provide guidance on when you should seek genetic counseling.

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November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, which provides an opportunity to learn more about the risk factors of this extremely deadly malignancy, encourage the community to take action, and guide research into a cure.

November is a month of inspiration for communities affected by pancreatic cancer.

Why wait? Call your doctor, seek emergency care, and educate others to help you take the appropriate steps to prevent pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Sue Mitra is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and has been working in Brevard County since 2022. Dr. Mitra can be reached at 321-622-6222. You can visit him at and make an appointment. Call now to learn more about pancreatic cancer and to assess the risks of this disease.


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