November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Pancreatic cancer has been a silent force. However, this disease has received more attention than ever in the past two years.
What Makes Pancreatic Cancer Hard to Treat?
This disease is difficult to catch in its early stages when it is easier to treat. Often, the first symptoms that present themselves are abdominal pain and nausea. These two symptoms can be present in any number of illnesses or disorders, so providers often do not test for pancreatic cancer first. Once these symptoms are present, however, the cancer has typically already reached Stage 4. This means that it has already spread to other organs or systems, such as the lymphatic system. It cannot be cured, but treatments can help prolong and increase the quality of life. Most pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed at stage 4.1
Pancreatic Cancer in the Media
Recently, two public figures have lost their lives to pancreatic cancer. Jeopardy host Alex Trebek announced in March 2019 that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Trebek passed the 18% one-year survival rate for those with a Stage 4 diagnosis,2 but passed away at age 80 on November 8, 2020.3
In September 2020, pancreatic cancer was back in the news when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a passionate advocate for pancreatic cancer awareness, died from the disease.4
Get Involved in Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
The Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research provides important information and lists several ways to support those fighting the disease and their families. World Pancreatic Cancer Day was on November 19, 2020, and individuals can participate in the foundation’s awareness campaign, “Celebrate, Participate, and Dedicate!”
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network also offers opportunities to get involved. Their Purple Stride fundraising events are held nationwide. These raise money for scientific research, patient services, government advocacy and community engagement.4
Grand Canyon University offers graduate nursing programs that will allow you to make a difference to those living with pancreatic cancer and other conditions. Whether you decide to pursue a degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner, a Nurse Leader, or a Public Health Nurse, you can affect the future and outcomes of those facing this disease. You can choose to work clinically, provide leadership, or work on policy. To learn more about the College of Nursing and Healthcare Professions, click on the Request Information button on this page.
1 https://www.pancan.org/facing-pancreatic-cancer/diagnosis/staging/stage-4/, November, 2020.
2 https://www.webmd.com/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/news/20200717/alex-trebek-says-cancer-treatments-paying-off#1, November, 2020.
3 https://apnews.com/article/alex-trebek-434c1a66a206d27e8177b118f602ac62, November, 2020.
4 https://apnews.com/article/ruth-bader-ginsburg-voting-rights-politics-joe-biden-elections-bf6704fa6e900967a705054c801a5495, November, 2020.
5 https://www.pancan.org, November, 2020.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.