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Pancreatic cancer to become second most common cancer

With all the pink ribbons and staged walks you might be inclined to believe that breast cancer is one of the most common cancers, but according to medical experts, pancreatic cancer is projected to become the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States by 2030.

It’s not sexy, and it doesn’t lend itself to double entendres, but pancreatic cancer is expected to bypass both colorectal and breast cancer, followed by liver and prostate cancers within the next fifteen years. Lung cancer, however, is expected to remain one of the top killers, according to the report from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN), a charity organization that advocates for pancreatic cancer research.

Death rates for common cancers


Deaths from cancers remain very high. According to a report from USA Today, “by 2030 experts believe there will continue to be 156,000 deaths from lung cancer, 63,000 deaths from pancreatic cancer, 51,000 deaths from liver cancer and 47,000 deaths from colorectal cancer

Changes in demographics leading to more pancreatic cancer deaths


Why is pancreatic cancer making a surge? Doctors agree the greatest reason for the rise in pancreatic cancer deaths is the aging population, which are more likely to get cancer. Other minority groups, such as African Americans, also have a higher risk of contracting the disease and as American demographics change, cancer rates will also change.

Another issue is the inability to proactively screen for the disease. Medical experts note that detection for some cancers such as colorectal cancer has improved over the last ten years. Improvements for detecting pancreatic cancer have not been as substantial.

"We've been able to turn the tide on other cancers" because of investments in research to better understand them, said study researcher Lynn Matrisian, vice president of scientific and medical affairs at PCAN. "It's now time to realize that we need to start turning the tide on pancreatic cancer with the same kind of tools.”

Pancreatic cancer survivors approximately 4%


A pancreatic cancer diagnosis can also be a death sentence with less than 4% percent of patients surviving more than five years after a diagnosis. This cancer is called the silent killer, and most patients don’t even know they have the disease until they are in the latest stages.

Researchers admit their research required them to make assumptions about cancer incidence and deaths. For instance, they assumed that changes in cancer incidence and death rates that took place between 2006 and 2010 would continue. But they also admit if a new scientific discovery was made that would allow them to easily detect pancreatic cancer earlier, the death rates would substantially decrease.

Can pancreatic cancer be prevented?


A common question is whether or not pancreatic cancer can be prevented. Although there are no established guidelines for its prevention, experts agree that smoking cigarettes may increase your risk of acquiring this disease. They also note that it’s important to stay healthy, maintain a healthy body weight, and exercise.


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