Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors and Symptoms

In 2020 an estimated 57,600 Americans were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S. Sadly, more than 47,050 lost their lives to the disease. Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, with more people dying from pancreatic cancer than breast cancer. Can anything be done to prevent this dangerous disease? How can you tell if you are experiencing symptoms and who is most at risk throughout their lives? We’re providing these answers so that you can stay vigilant and stay safe.

As with all forms of cancer, early detection is crucial to survival. While pancreatic cancer is mostly incurable, if caught early, it can be treated. Up to ten percent of early diagnosed patients who receive treatment can become cancer-free. The average survival time is three to three-and-a-half years for those who receive a diagnosis before the tumor spreads or grows.

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

The pancreas is an abdominal organ that lies behind the lower part of the stomach. The pancreas releases enzymes that help with digestion and creates hormones to help manage blood sugar. Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors can grow in the tissues of the organ. The most common form of cancer begins in the cells that line the ducts that move enzymes out of the organ. This type of tumor is known as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Pancreatic cancer often does not cause any symptoms until it spreads to nearby organs, which is partly why it has such a high fatality rate. When patients do begin to experience symptoms, they often include:

  • Abdominal pain often felt in the back
  • A Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin
  • Fatigue
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Onset diabetes, or difficulty controlling an existing case of diabetes
  • Blood clots

Who is at Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

Many controllable factors can increase one’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer, as well as some uncontrollable risk factors. The following can all increase one’s risk of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis:

  • Smoking: Smokers have nearly two times as high of a risk of developing pancreatic cancer as non-smokers; about 25% of pancreatic cancer cases are believed to be caused by cigarette smoking.
  • Age: Most pancreatic cancer patients are over age 45, and the average age at diagnosis is 70.
  • Family History: There is some indication that pancreatic cancer may run in families.
  • Sex: Men are at a greater risk than women, although this may be associated with their higher tobacco use rate.
  • Diet: People whose diets are high in sugar or red meat are at increased pancreatic cancer risk.
  • Obesity: Individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more are about 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
  • Chronic Pancreatitis: This is a condition marked by long-term pancreas inflammation. It is often associated with heavy smoking and alcohol use.
  • Diabetes: Patients with diabetes, and particularly type II diabetes, are at an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
  • Race: African Americans are slightly at greater risk of pancreatic cancer, although this may be due to their greater risk of other factors such as diabetes, obesity, and tobacco use.
  • Chemical Exposure: Individuals exposed to some chemical hazards during work, particularly metal workers and those who work near dry cleaning chemicals, are at increased risk.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Leading a healthy lifestyle, having a primary care provider, and participating in regular wellness screenings are all factors that can mitigate your risk of developing a variety of dangerous conditions. When it comes to cancer, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to successful treatment and recovery. If you believe that you may be at risk of pancreatic cancer, or are suffering from symptoms, talk to your doctor. If you need help quitting smoking, reducing your alcohol use, or improving your diet, your doctor can provide resources to help you get healthy and lower your risk of a cancer diagnosis.

Achilles Tendon Problems? How to Heal and When to Get Help

The mythological Greek warrior Achilles had one vulnerability—his heel. Anyone who has ever experienced pain or an injury to the tendon that shares Achilles’ name knows all too well the debilitating pain caused by an injury to the small but crucial tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel. Also known as the calcaneal tendon, it is the thickest and most powerful tendon in the body. When your calf muscles contract, they lift the heel by the Achilles tendon, creating the action that allows you to walk, jump, and run. A rupture, dislocation, tear, or a case of tendonitis in the Achilles can be extremely painful and slow to heal. What can you do to prevent an injury to your Achilles heel, and when should you see your doctor about your pain?

How to Prevent Injuries to Your Achilles Heel

Active adults, especially those who participate in such recreational activities as soccer, basketball, and tennis that involve a lot of running, jumping, and fast stops, are at an increased risk of an Achilles heel injury. To protect your tendons:

  • Stretch regularly to strengthen your calf muscles.
  • If you are just beginning a new fitness routine, build up your time, distance, frequency, and intensity slowly.
  • Vary your fitness routine, maintaining a balance between low and high-impact activities. Low-impact activities include swimming, biking, and walking, and high-impact activities include running, rugby, skiing, and gymnastics.
  • Avoid running on hard or slippery surfaces. If you enjoy winter weather running, wear athletic shoes that fit correctly and cushion your heels.

How to Manage Achilles Heel Pain

If you are experiencing discomfort in your Achilles from overuse, consider the pain management treatments below. If you believe you have experienced a tear, rupture, or a more severe injury, talk to your doctor immediately.

  • While challenging and frustrating to active individuals and those who play sports, resting is one of the best steps you can take to minimize Achilles-related pain.
  • Stretching will help you to regain your range of motion.
  • Use a cold compress to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Talk to your doctor about tissue regeneration therapy, a process that uses acoustic waves to stimulate the development of newer, stronger blood vessels in damaged tissues.

When to Talk to Your Doctor About Achilles Heel Pain

If your pain begins at the onset of an injury, especially if you hear a popping or snapping sound at the time of the event, see a doctor immediately, as you may have experienced an Achilles tendon tear or rupture. Pain that builds up over time due to overuse or pain caused by a partial tear may not require invasive treatment, but you should still make an appointment with your doctor if your pain is severe or does not improve with rest, stretching, and a cold compress after several weeks. Your doctor may recommend surgery, physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medicine, or rest, depending on the extent of your injury.

Nova Health Partners with Stitches Acute Care

Expands Service Capabilities to Rural Communities in Wyoming and Colorado

Eugene, OR – January 5, 2021 – Nova Health, a provider of high-quality, convenient primary and urgent care services in the Western United States, has announced that it has acquired Stitches Acute Care, a healthcare organization offering urgent care, occupational medicine, X-ray, and laboratory services in Wyoming and Colorado.

According to Nova Health Chief Executive Officer Jim Ashby, the acquisition expands Nova’s growing footprint for urgent and primary care services into two new states in line with its strategy to reach more markets in the Western United States.

“Over the past two years, we have pursued strategic partnerships with established, quality care providers that share our passion for collaborative team environments, compassionate patient care, and convenient medical access particularly in smaller, underserved communities,” said Ashby. “The leadership, medical providers, and staff members of Stitches Acute Care share our vision for convenient access and our patient-centric approach to care delivery. We are confident that this partnership will strengthen both organizations; and more importantly, ensure ongoing, quality care for patients in Wyoming and Northern Colorado.

“We are pleased to be part of the Nova Health family,” said Dan Surdam, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Stitches Acute Care. “For a growing organization such as Nova Health, that has earned such an outstanding reputation for quality care, to recognize our people and our operations for strategic alignment represents a validation of years of community commitment and passionate dedication. We are confident that our patients and our employees will enjoy the benefits that come from a larger, strengthened healthcare organization while maintaining the connection with our communities specific needs, which they have come to rely upon for immediate, acute care services.”