While many people associate November with Movember and men’s health, it’s also Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
Pancreatic Cancer By the Numbers
- It’s the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States
- Only 5 percent of patients survive 5 years
- Surgery is not an option for nearly 90 percent of patients
- It affects men 30 percent more often than women
While less well-known than other forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer is perhaps one of the deadliest, with a 5 percent survival rate of five years following diagnosis. The disease is often found at an advanced stage because symptoms usually don’t show up until the disease has spread to other parts of the body. By then, it’s too late for most treatment options.
“Early detection is really key with pancreatic cancer,” says UVA surgeon Todd Bauer, MD.
Enter UVA’s High-Risk Pancreatic Cancer Clinic, where an interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, researchers and imaging experts are all working to identify those at increased risk and provide careful monitoring and screening.
“The focus of this clinic is to detect cancers early or find pre-cancerous tumors and then be able to offer patients potentially curative surgery,” Bauer says.
Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer
According to UVA surgeon Reid Adams, MD, there are multiple risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
“One of the primary ones is a pancreatic cystic lesion,” Adams says. Other strong risk factors include a family history of pancreatic cancer, chronic pancreatitis, familial pancreatitis and certain modifiable risk factors.”
One such patient, concerned about his increased risk due to a family history of pancreatic cancer, is none other than Larry Sabato, a UVA professor and director of the Center for Politics, nationally known for his political analysis.
“Fortunately, at the University of Virginia, we have a number of people focusing on pancreatic cancer, and they’re some of the best in the country and the world,” Sabato says.
To hear more from Larry Sabato — about his father’s battle with pancreatic cancer, his own experience at the high-risk pancreatic cancer clinic and the importance of being proactive — check out this video.