The pancreas. It’s an organ we’ve all heard of, but probably don’t know much about. Located in the abdomen behind the stomach, and about 15cm in length, it may be obscure, but it is a vital part of the digestive system, producing fuel for our bodies from the foods that we eat. With two main functions; aiding in digestion, and regulating blood sugar, the pancreas is essential for a healthy life.
Sometimes however, as with all organs in the body, things can go wrong. Pancreatic cancer ranks in the top ten of most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia, and unfortunately, has a very low survival rate of 8.7% in the five years after diagnosis and treatment.
Left untreated, pancreatic cancer can spread rapidly to the other abdominal organs, on to the lymphatic system, and eventually on to the other organs in the body. Pancreatic cancer affects more men than women, and sadly, almost half a million people are diagnosed worldwide each year.
This equates to 1200 people each day hearing the sad news that they have been diagnosed with this life changing disease. These people are our parents, our siblings, and our friends, and we all have the ability to learn more about this type of cancer, and to raise much needed funds to help those affected.
In Australia, December is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month a time to focus on raising awareness and funds into research that will improve current survival outcomes. With a purple theme, supporters can participate in a number of events, which range from purchasing merchandise, making donations, sharing experiences with others, through to hosting a fundraising event either in your home or workplace.
There are a number of things that are known to exacerbate pancreatic cancer, including excessive smoking, diabetes, chronic and continual pancreatitis, and a family history of pancreatic, ovarian or colon cancer.
Around 5-10% of pancreatic cancer can be attributed to genetic causes, which means that one or two in every twenty people will have an increased risk of developing this devastating disease.
Although you may not be able to prevent the onset of pancreatic cancer, as there is no early detection test, you can discover your genetic predisposition to the disease, with a simple DNA test from GTL. The Cancer Panel Genetic Predisposition Test assesses against more than 90 hereditary cancers, including pancreatic cancer.
DNA testing is the only way to confirm whether or not a person carries certain hereditary gene mutations that may be responsible for certain cancers. The Cancer Panel Genetic Predisposition Test is used by our clients to identify the gene mutations that are responsible for hereditary cancers within the family, and to determine which family members could be at risk.
Additionally, there are a number of symptoms that could indicate pancreatic cancer. These include, but are not limited to; indigestion, appetite loss, nausea/vomiting, pain in the upper abdomen, side or back that is severe enough to wake you up at night, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
So this December, become aware of your body, and take note of any changes in your abdominal health. Check your predisposition to pancreatic cancer with GTL, and get involved in the purple themed awareness campaign that could just save a life one day.