Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pancreatic Cancer

Yesterday, the world lost one of its great innovators and entrepreneurs, Steve Jobs.  Jobs impacted this world in ways most of us can only dream of.  To quote Barack Obama's statement on Jobs' death, "...there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented."

Jobs had suffered from pancreatic cancer in since 2004, when he had a cancerous tumor removed from his pancreas.  In 2009, Jobs had a liver transplant.  This past August, Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple, saying that he could no longer focus the necessary time and energy on his job.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, and it seemed appropriate to discuss the disease in today's blog entry.  Pancreatic cancer accounts for the 4th most cancer-related deaths in the world.  It has an atrocious prognosis rate - those who are diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer have one- and five-year survival rates on 25% and 6%.

The reason for such a high mortality rate is because pancreatic cancer usually does not display symptoms until in is far more advanced - as a result, treatment is difficult if not impossible.  Symptoms include jaundice, loss of appetite, vomiting, pain in the upper abdomen and significant weight loss.  Risk factors include a family history of the disease, age, smoking, diets that are low in vegetables & fruits, high in red meat, or sugar-sweetened drinks and obesity.

In terms of prevention, there are no formal, established guidelines from the American Cancer Society, but there are some suggestions:

  • Don't smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Increase consumption of fruits, vegitables and whole grain
  • Decrease consumption of Red Meat
  • Consume 300-449 international units of Vitamin D

Sources:
- Pancreatic cancer (wikipedia)
- Pancreatic cancer (American Cancer Society)

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