Understanding the 10% Survival Rate Cancer, You Should Watch Out For
Pancreatic cancer, a disease even Apple’s founder Steve Jobs couldn’t overcome, is considered one of the most lethal and frightening forms of cancer. It’s challenging to detect early compared to stomach or colon cancer, and due to the lack of initial symptoms, it’s often discovered in the late stages, leading to a high mortality rate. We looked at how to prevent this disease if early detection is difficult and when the onset typically occurs.
A Frightening Cancer with a Survival Rate in the 10% Range
Pancreatic cancer, which has a 5-year survival rate hovering in the 10% range, is often discovered in its late stages and is considered a severe form of cancer due to the slow pace of treatment advancements. Although the relative survival rate of other cancers has improved over the past decade, pancreatic cancer has shown a negligible increase. With only about one in ten patients surviving five years, it’s rightfully considered one of the most terrifying forms of cancer.
Early Detection Is Difficult
Early detection of pancreatic cancer is quite challenging. In many cases, by the time symptoms appear, the cancer has already progressed. There are numerous instances where no abnormalities were found in endoscopy or ultrasound tests, but a few months later, the patient was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This highlights the difficulty in accurately detecting and diagnosing pancreatic cancer.
Diabetes as a Cause?
If you suddenly develop diabetes in middle age, you should consider the possibility of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer patients have a five times higher risk of developing diabetes, and if you already have diabetes, your symptoms may worsen. Diabetes can be a cause of pancreatic cancer, but it can also develop due to pancreatic cancer. If you have had diabetes for a long time or if you have suddenly been diagnosed with diabetes without a family history, it would be a good idea to get tested for pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatitis Is a Significant Risk Factor
Chronic pancreatitis significantly increases the incidence of pancreatic cancer. Chronic pancreatitis is a disease where inflammation occurs in normal pancreatic cells, causing the entire pancreas to harden and lose function. It can present as a chronic form or evolve into a chronic form after repeated acute inflammation. The most important cause of chronic pancreatitis is alcohol consumption, and it is indeed tough to distinguish between chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Check for Genetic Factors
Genetics account for about 10% of the causes of pancreatic cancer. If you have a direct family member, such as a parent or sibling, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer before the age of 50, or if you have a direct family member with pancreatic cancer regardless of age, you should consider the possibility of family history. Most cancers, including colon cancer, have a hereditary component of about 5-10%, and there are households where members have died of pancreatic cancer generation after generation. It is essential to discuss this with your doctor and receive regular screenings.
Quitting Smoking Is the Only Way Out
Smoking, an environmental factor of pancreatic cancer, causes excessive proliferation of pancreatic epithelial cells and abnormal changes in the nucleus, leading to pancreatic cancer. People who have smoked for a long time have a 2-5 times higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who haven’t, and even if they quit smoking, it takes about ten years for the risk to decrease to the level of non-smokers. The sooner you quit smoking, the better for preventing pancreatic cancer and other cancers.
Be Mindful After Middle Age
In middle age, when various diseases are likely to occur, it’s necessary to check for pancreatic cancer and your overall health. Particularly for pancreatic cancer, the highest incidence is in the 70s (30%), followed by the 60s and 80s, making it an age-related cancer. The average age of onset for pancreatic cancer is about 65, so it’s crucial to start thorough checks from this age onwards.
How to Increase the Survival Rate?
To increase the survival rate of pancreatic cancer, the best approach is to detect the cancer early. Although it’s best to discover it early through regular screenings, if it’s detected after stage 3, surgery is often not an option. The survival rate for pancreatic cancer is determined in three-year intervals and is lower compared to other cancers. Therefore, if you have a family history, smoke frequently, drink alcohol regularly, or belong to a specific occupation exposed to chemical substances, it’s essential to get screened actively.
Excessive Meat Consumption Is Toxic
The amount of meat consumption has significantly increased compared to the past, and meat dishes are expected to be on the table. However, if you’re eating red meat every meal, this problem needs consideration. Red meat is classified as a Group 2 carcinogen, and for health reasons, it’s recommended to avoid the dietary habit of consuming red meat more than four times a week. It’s essential to limit the intake of processed meats.
Excessive Drinking Is Also a Problem
During the pandemic, many people drank at home, leading to an increase in the frequency of alcohol consumption compared to before. Not only is alcohol consumption itself a problem, but frequent drinking habits are also problematic. Alcohol increases the risk of cancer, so it’s recommended to avoid even a single drink for cancer prevention. Alcohol increases the risk of not only pancreatic cancer but also various types of cancer.
By. Shin Young Jeon