By Kay Quinn Healthbeat Reporter
St. Louis (KSDK) - America's first female astronaut, Sally Ride, died of pancreatic cancer Monday.
On this week's 8 Ways to Prevent Cancer segment, we take a look at where there's any way to prevent this very deadly diagnosis.
"We're seeing more and more cases of it yes," said Dr. Steven Strasberg with the Siteman Cancer Center.
It's now the third deadliest cancer in women. Pancreatic cancer is usually associated with men, like the high-profile cases of the late Steve Jobs and Patrick Swayze, but not all pancreatic cancer has a bad outlook.
About five to ten percent are called neuroendocrine cancers. They grow slowly and can usually be surgically removed. But by far the most common is adenocarcinoma which accounts for about 90 percent of all cases.
"The bad thing about adenocarcinomas is even when they're small they tend to metastasize to other organs that is they spread easily even when they're small," said Dr. Strasberg.
So what about prevention? There is no screening test, so most cases are found in advanced stages. But there is one big way to lower your chances of getting it.
"Smoking is a very bad risk factor for pancreatic cancer so particularly if there's anybody within generations whose had abdominal cancer of any type. I would advise people to be very serious about smoking cessation," said Dr. Strasberg. "There's lots of really good reasons not to smoke and pancreatic cancer is one of them."