Annual deaths from cancer have dropped 27% in the last 25 years, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). However, the death rates for some have barely dropped, and some forms will still kill tens of thousands of people this year. One cancer of a rarely discussed organ remains a major killer, and the odds patients will survive it remain grim.
Pancreatic cancer will kill 45,750 this year, and 56,770 new cases will be discovered. More well-known cancers will kill fewer people in 2019, according to new data from the ACS. Prostate cancer will take 31,620. Breast cancer will kill 42,260. Ovarian cancer will kill 13,980. Leukemia will kill 22,840.
The pancreatic cancer diagnosis of “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek has focused the country’s attention on the disease, but much less on why it’s such a dangerous form, and why it accounts for such a high number of deaths. First among these is that pancreatic cancer is hard to detect. Often, by the time it’s discovered, it’s too late for there to be a reasonable chance to treat it effectively.
“Pancreatic cancer is relatively uncommon but very deadly. It is hard to detect at an early stage, usually not treatable by surgery, and resistant to drugs that work in many other cancers,” according to doctors at the prominent cancer center Memorial Sloan Kettering. Only 6% of those diagnosed will live for five years. Pancreatic cancer rarely has distinct symptoms in early stages, and many doctors point out that what symptoms it triggers early on may be mistaken for other conditions. Many people disregard certain signs that could mean cancer because there are too vague. These are 25 health symptoms people always ignore but never should.
The medical field has had a difficult time discovering early-screening methods. In most cases, pancreatic cancer can’t be operated on or surgery comes too late to benefit the patient. In addition, the disease can quickly spread to other essential organs that surround the pancreas. Steven Leach, director of the David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research, points out that “When the tumor involves these major blood vessels, it generally can’t be removed.”
Drugs that work on other cancers usually do not on pancreatic cancer. That is the other main reason cancer death rates are so high. New treatments remain in the early stages.
The new American Cancer Association data for 2019 show that a form of cancer does not need to be well known to be incredibly dangerous. Among the reasons for hope, however, is that one thing many people do not know is that the number of cancer survivors is expected to rise from 15.5 million in 2016 to 20.3 million in 2026. There will be nearly 1.8 million new cancer diagnoses and 606,900 cancer deaths in the United States in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society, and these are the most common cancers among other men or women.