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ASGE and The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Partner to Raise Awareness About Pancreatic Cancer
Date:11/24/2008

elp patients diagnosed with this disease.

About Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is a gland deep in the abdomen, behind the stomach, that is part of the digestive and endocrine systems. The pancreas makes juices that help with digestion (enzymes) as well as important hormones such as insulin that control the level of sugar in the bloodstream. Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose early, as the symptoms are often minor or non-existent until the tumor has extended outside the pancreas. Once outside the pancreas, the tumor invades a number of adjacent organs and is usually not amenable to surgical resection. There are no reliable early diagnostic tests for pancreatic cancer.

Scientific research is in the basic stages. Advancing pancreatic cancer research into the 21st century is dependent upon the increase of basic science research. Pancreatic cancer risk factors need to be identified and verified before research about prevention methods can begin. Recent research studies indicate that approximately 10 percent of pancreatic cancer cases are familial and another 30 percent are thought to result from cigarette smoking. Some other risk factors scientists are currently studying include: diabetes, chronic and hereditary pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), obesity, physical activity, and diet.

"Screening for pancreatic cancer in relatives of affected people is not often done in the United States," said Pochapin. "However, families with many cases of pancreatic cancer or close relatives of people who developed pancreatic cancer at an early age should seek the advice of a specialist such as a gastroenterologist or oncologist, as there are specific genetic syndromes that may increase susceptibility for pancreatic cancer."

Symptoms and Detection

Since the pancreas is near the drainage tubes for bile and digestive enzymes, a mass in the pancreas can b
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SOURCE American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
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