Pancreatic Cancer – Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Treatments

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

The Pancreas

The pancreas is approximately 15cm in length and commonly described as being in the shape of a tadpole with a larger head area narrowing to a body than a tail – these terms are used to describe the different areas of the pancreas. It sits in the upper abdomen, largely behind the stomach and alongside the intestine. The pancreas is a gland and has two main functions:

  • Exocrine: secreting enzymes to break down food in the digestive system.
  • Endocrine: Secreting hormones such as insulin and glucagon, mainly to control blood sugar and energy release.

Cancers of the pancreas tend to begin only affecting one of these independent systems, but 95% of pancreatic cancers are in the exocrine part. Around 65% of tumors will develop in the head of the pancreas and 30% in the body and tail. The other 5% appear to affect the pancreas as a whole.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?

As the pancreas is made up of these two separate systems, symptoms depend on whether the Exocrine or Endocrine pancreas has been affected. As a rule, the following are the most common symptoms experienced by patients:

  • Pain in the stomach or back area
  • Jaundice – Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Changes in bowel habit
  • Indigestion
  • Sickness
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Extreme fatigue/tiredness
  • Feeling unusually full after eating

Please remember that a number of these symptoms can be caused by entirely different factors and only rarely signify pancreatic cancer.

Causes and Risk Factors

It is important to note that there can be many risk factors for different forms of cancer, as well as other diseases. Some risk factors can be changed, such as smoking or lack of exercise; some cannot, such as family history.

It is also important to remember that having one or more risk factors does not mean that you will get pancreatic, or any other, cancer.

  • Smoking – Tobacco use is one of the major risk factors for cancer of the pancreas. It is believed that those who smoke are twice as likely to get the disease.
  • Obesity – As we know, obesity is a strong risk factor for many diseases, not just cancer. Being overweight increases your chance of getting pancreatic cancer by around 20%. Carrying extra weight around the middle may also be a risk factor even for those who are not obese.
  • Chemical Exposure – Those who are exposed to certain chemicals in the workplace are more at risk.
  • Age – Almost all cases are in people over the age of 45 with two-thirds of cases in those over the age of 65.
  • Gender – Men are around 30% more likely to get pancreatic cancer than women.
  • Type 2 Diabetes – Evidence suggests that those with type 2 diabetes are more at risk of pancreatic cancer.
  • Dietary Factors – It is thought that those who eat a lot of red and processed meats are generally more at risk.
  • Physical Activity – It is believed that those who are physically inactive are more likely to develop this form of cancer.

5 Year Survival Rates

From the SEER database, patient data collected between 2009 and 2015

  • Localized, or only present within the pancreas: 37%
  • Regional; cancer which has spread outside the pancreas to nearby areas: 12%
  • Distant; cancer which has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body: 3 %

To find out more about how the Budwig protocol can treat pancreatic and other types of cancer, visit out Pancreatic Cancer Treatment page.

The Budwig Approach

Many of our patients at The Budwig Center have had very positive outcomes after natural pancreatic cancer treatment.

Our approach is focused on whole-body health, and we recognize the importance of emotional and mental health in disease and cancer treatment. Holistic practitioners broadly group the causes of cancer into four areas:

  • Toxins – chemicals (consider the impact of smoking and high alcohol intake on health) and emotional toxicity.
  • Pathogens – viruses, parasites, fungi, and other infectious agents.
  • Compromised Immune System – for a number of reasons, including other health conditions, medications, or lifestyle.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies – all too common in many modern diets high in ‘empty’ calories and low in fresh, natural foods.

These four groups are interlinked, overlapping and complex, but the Budwig approach begins simply; a healthy life, healthy body, natural treatments, and emotional therapy.

Here at the Budwig Center, we love to hear back from the cancer survivors we’ve been honored to have helped over the years. Read some of our testimonials here. Get in touch to find out how the Budwig Center can help you or your loved ones. And Join us on Facebook or Twitter.

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