June 11, 2024

How To Prevent Pancreatic Cancer

Woman getting examined by a doctor

The pancreas is located near the lower part of the stomach. It produces enzymes to help digest food and hormones for regulating blood sugar.

Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in the pancreas grow uncontrollably. Often, it starts in the ducts that transport enzymes out of the pancreas. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is the most common form of the disease.

While you can’t technically prevent pancreatic cancer, you can take steps to lower your risk. This article provides helpful information on the disease and how to avoid pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms and Risk Factors

One of the challenges with addressing pancreatic cancer is that it doesn’t produce symptoms in its early stage. That fact makes it crucial to reduce your risk.

When it reaches more advanced stages, pancreatic cancer can cause:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach, back, or side pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that are light-colored or greasy or that float
  • Dark urine
  • Diabetes that’s newly diagnosed or getting more challenging to control
  • Itchy skin
  • Blood clots, which may cause pain, swelling, or redness in the arms or legs
  • Fatigue or weakness

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should talk with your doctor.

Risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Pancreatitis (chronic inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer or other specific DNA changes, including those to the BRCA2 gene
  • Being 65 or older

Fortunately, you can take action to address most of the items on this list.

Tips for Lowering Your Pancreatic Cancer Risk

The following lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer:

  • Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke. This is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer and other cancers.
  • Be physically active. Regular exercise can lower your cancer risk and improve your health in other ways.
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. Eating a healthy diet and exercising are core components of good health.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption. Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink (or avoiding it entirely) lowers your pancreatic cancer risk.
  • Follow workplace safety guidelines on exposure to hazardous chemicals. Toxic substances can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer and other illnesses.

The great thing about these cancer prevention practices is that you can start them today and immediately begin lowering your risk. Plus, they all benefit your health generally.

Talk With Your Baptist Health Doctor About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a life-threatening condition. You can’t prevent the disease, but you can lower your risk with some simple lifestyle modifications.

If you experience pancreatic cancer symptoms or want more details on how to address your risk factors, talk with a Baptist Health primary care physician. They can diagnose your condition or recommend lifestyle changes as appropriate.

Don’t have a doctor? Check out our online provider directory.

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