Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month brings attention to ‘silent cancer’

World Pancreatic Cancer Day is on November 16

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Wednesday marks the start of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Twenty-six people are diagnosed with the disease each day, and only 5 percent of those who are diagnosed survive beyond five years.

The American Cancer Society estimates roughly 53,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017.

Dr. Kevin Kelley, at Trumbull Memorial Hospital, said the causes of pancreatic cancer are not known. There are some risk factors that make developing pancreatic cancer more likely, however, including smoking and obesity.

Pancreatic cancer is often referred to as a “silent cancer” because it is thought that the early symptoms can be vague or mimic other stomach issues.

Dr. Kelley said there is a desperate need for more research and better treatment for cancer.

Right now, there are more than 600 active clinical trials, but there is a need for more practical methods of early detection.

“The imaging and the technology we have available to screen for this disease has a lot of false positives and false negatives,” Dr. Kelly said. It’s not reliable, and it’s also not practical. The imaging is very intensive and involved.”

Dr. Kelley said pancreatic cancer is now the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, surpassing breast cancer.

“Some of the theories behind this are that we are getting better at treating cancers like breast cancer. We are catching those earlier. There’s more advocacy and awareness. Women are coming in for annual screening mammography, and we are catching those cancers early, and treatment has gotten a lot better.”

Kelly hopes that this month will bring more awareness to the need for funding for more research.

World Pancreatic Cancer Day is on November 16.