Surprising signs you may have pancreatic cancer, including depression and when to seek help – eat this, not that

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most feared cancers because it typically has a low survival rate. CNN reports: “Approximately 95% of people with pancreatic cancer die from it, experts say. It is so deadly because there are usually no symptoms in the early stages, when the tumor would be most treatable. It tends to be detected in advanced stages. Abdominal pain or jaundice can result. There are currently no general screening tools.”

This year, an estimated “62,210 people (32,970 men and 29,240 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” according to the American Cancer Society and “Approximately 49,830 people (25,970 males and 23,860 females) will die from pancreatic cancer.” Tomi Mitchell, a board-certified general practitioner with Holistic wellness strategies tells us, “Pancreatic and ovarian cancer are two types that tend to be particularly aggressive and difficult to treat. In the case of pancreatic cancer, the tumor is often deep in the abdomen, making it difficult to reach with surgery or other treatments. Also, the pancreas is surrounded by vital organs, making it risky to remove the tumor without causing serious damage.”

Although pancreatic cancer is a life-threatening disease, it can be fought. “I’ve been a successful (not just a survivor) of stage three pancreatic cancer for six years.” Chris Joseph Owners of CAJA Environmental Services, LLC and author tell us. Eat this, not that! Heath spoke to Joseph, who shares his perspective on pancreatic cancer, as well as experts who explain what you need to know about the disease. Read on – and don’t miss these to protect your health and the health of others Sure signs you already had COVID.

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Joseph says, “We have fallen behind in this country because we focus almost exclusively on cancer treatment and early detection. We need to focus equally, if not more, on prevention and wellness. Eating healthier, choosing better foods, moving our bodies more, not relying on quick fixes (which aren’t really fixed at all) thinking we can take a pill and things will get better.”

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dr Mitchell says, “Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, with over 8 million people succumbing to the disease each year. While there are many possible explanations as to why cancer is so prevalent, this is one of the most likely reasons our bodies aren’t designed to last forever. From a cellular perspective, our bodies are constantly inventing new cells to replace old ones. However, this process is imperfect and mistakes can occasionally be made during cell division. These mistakes, known as mutations, can happen causing cells to grow and divide out of control, eventually leading to cancer. Additionally, as we age, our cells become less efficient at repairing themselves, making them more vulnerable to damage development of cancerous mutations. While many factors contribute to cancer development, the basic explanation is that our bodies are not immortal. Over time, the accumulated damage to our cells leads to an increasing number of cancerous growths, eventually leading to death.”

Doctor in white medical lab coat pointing pen at anatomical model of human or animal pancreas
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Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a Registered Nurse The Mesothelioma Center with a clinical trials background in oncology and over 20 years of direct patient care experience says, “Pancreatic cancer can affect vital cells that control hormones and digestion. This cancer has a poor prognosis because this organ controls blood sugar, which can negatively affect other sensitive organs such as the brain and kidneys. It is difficult to detect pancreatic cancer early because the pancreas is located deep in the abdomen. Tumors are not easy to see or feel and may not cause noticeable symptoms at first.

Know the early warning signs if you’re at risk for pancreatic cancer due to genetics or lifestyle. Talk to your doctor about when and how to measure your blood sugar. There are no early detection tests for pancreatic cancer. However, your doctor may order imaging if you have warning signs or symptoms.”

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Joseph shares that he suffered from depression prior to his diagnosis, although he didn’t have depression and his life was going well, so he didn’t understand why he was feeling down until he realized there was a connection between pancreatic cancer and depression. “I started having serious and deep depressive episodes, which was weird because my life was going really well,” he reveals. “I actually had suicidal thoughts. I sought help from a therapist and that took some air out of the balloon.”

According to an article in Pancreas Journal of Neuroendocrine Tumors and Pancreatic Disease and Sciences tAuthor Kenner, Barbara J. PhD, writes: “Depression and anxiety as precursors to physical illness are becoming increasingly accepted as having depression as an early symptom. One of the strongest associations between mental disorders before a cancer diagnosis was shown in a 2016 study from Sweden. The study included 300,000 cancer patients and more than 3 million cancer-free individuals (controls). The researchers found an increased risk of psychiatric disorders nearly a year before cancer diagnosis. Mental disorder diagnoses peaked shortly after cancer diagnosis. In addition, the diagnosis rate for mental disorders was higher in cancers with a poor prognosis.

A large group of participants from national health surveys in England and Scotland took part in a longitudinal study examining the relationship between mental distress and death from cancer. More than 163,000 men and women, cancer-free and over the age of 16 enrolled in the study at the start. They self-reported mental symptoms and allowed researchers to track their health records. The results show that psychological distress may have some predictive power for certain types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer.”

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Marchese says: “You should watch out for signs of jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin), changes in urinary or bowel habits, and unexpected weight loss. They may also have back or abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, or blood clots.”

According to that Mayo Clinic“Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often do not appear until the disease is advanced. This can include:

  • Abdominal pain radiating to the back
  • Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss
  • yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • Pale stools
  • Dark colored urine
  • itchy skin
  • New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that is becoming increasingly difficult to control
  • blood clot
  • Fatigue”
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Joseph explains, “About nine out of ten cancers are not hereditary… which means we need to look at what’s happening in relation to the food we eat (or don’t eat), the sad reality that we’re becoming a sedentary society we move our bodies less, we eat more processed foods, we have the highest obesity rate (and associated diseases) in the industrialized world, our medical system compares very poorly to other industrialized countries (although we don’t spend a ton on it such good results), we use about 25 percent of the world’s prescription drugs, but our population represents a small fraction of the world’s population. I could go on.

If I had to name a few important things (not easy to do), I’d say cut down on processed sugar. The amount we put into our bodies today compared to say 150 years ago is amazing. Second, always be aware of what you wear on, in and around your body and home. Getting/staying healthy is hard work. But getting/dealing with cancer is infinitely more difficult.”

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The Mayo Clinic says, “Contact your doctor if you notice any unexplained symptoms that worry you. Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so your doctor can check for these conditions, as well as pancreatic cancer.”

Marchese explains: “There are many treatments for pancreatic cancer, such as chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. Targeted therapies like Tarceva and Lynparza work differently than chemo. They can help minimize systemic damage compared to other treatments like chemo. Palliative care, less invasive options, can also reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.”

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