Silent killer: Pancreatic cancer numbers increase

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 6:52pm

Pancreatic cancer deaths have been slowly increasing for the last 15 years. Now, this number is only expected to rise.

According to the American Association for cancer research, pancreatic cancer will be one of the top cancer killers by 2030. KETK spoke with Dr. Joseph Martins from Tyler Hematology Oncology, who said, "Most patients, in fact about five out of six, will present with an advanced cancer. So by the time that they know there's something important going on, they already have something that we can't cure".

Surgery is the only effective way to treat curable pancreatic cancer, and only 20 percent of patients are even eligible for the procedure. Martins said, "It has to be removed. We cannot cure pancreatic cancer at all unless a surgeon can remove it". Of those who go under the knife, only six percent are expected to survive the following five years. Martins explained, "There's a high chance that it will so called come back some day. And part of that has to do with the fact that there may be microscopic deposits already hiding that we can't see. So we believe it's resected, but turns out there was something else hiding elsewhere in the body".

The causes are still unknown, and doctors believe the disease has an association with obesity and diabetes. Martins believes, "Pancreatic cancer may become more important in the future, and if we don't invest in it now, we won't have a chance to change that".

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