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Can pancreatic cancer be prevented?

6:26 PM, Aug 7, 2012   |    comments
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By Kay Quinn, Healthbeat Reporter

St. Louis (KSDK) - One of the deadliest cancers is so hard to stop because it's found so late.

On this week's 8 Ways to Prevent Cancer segment, we take a look at whether it's possible to prevent pancreatic cancer.

"There's no good screening test we can apply to the whole population so most people who have pancreatic cancer discover it as a result of symptoms," said Dr. Steven Strasberg with the Siteman Cancer Center.

Jaundice, which is a yellow coloring of the skin, and abdominal pain are the two most prominent signs that something may be wrong with this deeply placed organ in the body. But what about preventing it all together?

"There's no way to prevent it in a global sense," said Dr. Strasberg.

But there are clear risk factors.

"Smoking is a very bad risk factor for pancreatic cancer," he said.

So is heavy drinking, especially if it causes an inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis.

"Chronic pancreatitis can be brought about by various means but one is by drinking especially heavy drinking and that is associated with a higher risk of pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Strasberg.

And sometimes, it can be passed down through families.

"If a person has a family history of, a strong family history of pc and what we mean by a strong family history is two or more first degree relatives, that is children, siblings, brothers or sisters, or parents then they should see a genetic counselor and be put in a follow up program," said Dr. Strasberg.



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