Pancreatic cancer will likely be the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States by 2030, overtaking breast and colon cancer deaths, according to a new report by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN).
Currently, the top three causes of cancer-related death in the United States are lung, colorectal and breast cancers followed by pancreatic, prostate and liver cancers. Lung is expected to remain the top cancer killer in 2013, but pancreatic cancer is expected to move into second place.
The reason, the group explains, is partly due to changes in demographics, such as an increase in the number of people ages 65 and older. This age group is more at risk for cancer in general. Another reason is the increase in minority group populations. Pancreatic cancer is more prevalent in African Americans than in whites.
Increased screening has led to early detection of many cancers, such as colon cancer, which has increased the lifespan for individuals with those cancers. Similar screenings are not available for those with pancreatic or liver cancers, which is why more research is needed for these types of cancer, the PCAN says.
Ninety-four percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within five years, partly because the disease has few warning signs and thus is not diagnosed until late stages. The group says more needs to be done to identify risk factors for the disease.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include smoking, obesity and diabetes. In fact, diabetics are twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer compared to those without diabetes.
Some medications to treat type 2 diabetes, such as Januvia and Byetta, have also been linked to a severe inflammation of the pancreas known as acute pancreatitis, as well as pancreatic cancer.
Source: Mother Nature Network