Pancreatic cancer rates rise faster among women

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TUESDAY, Feb. 14, 2023 (HealthDay News) — While pancreatic cancer rates are rising for both men and women, they are rising faster among young women, particularly black women.

“We can say that the rate of pancreatic cancer among women is rapidly increasing, which highlights the need for more research in this area,” said senior study author Dr. Srinivas Gaddam, associate director of Pancreatic Biliary Research at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. “We need to understand these trends and make changes today so that this doesn’t disproportionately affect women in the future.”

The increase is small, however, and shouldn’t be alarming, but future studies will need to examine these trends, Gaddam said.

“The data show us a small increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer,” he said in a Cedars-Sinai press release. “And this awareness can redirect people towards the need to stop smoking, reduce alcohol use, follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly and control weight. All these lifestyle changes help lower the risk of pancreatic cancer.”

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In the study, researchers used data from the National Cancer Registry Program database, which represents approximately 65% ​​of the US population, on patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer between 2001 and 2018.

The researchers found that pancreatic cancer rates increased among both men and women.

But rates among women under 55 increased by 2.4% more than rates among men the same age. Similar increased rates were seen among older men and women.

And rates among young black women increased by just over 2% of those among young black men.

“And although we are reporting an improvement in pancreatic cancer survival each year, this improvement is mostly among men,” added Gaddam. “The death rate among women is not improving.”

Reasons may include the type and location of the tumors.

Rates of adenocarcinoma of the head of the pancreas, which is an especially aggressive and deadly type of tumor located in the head of the pancreas, appear to be increasing, according to the study.

The pancreas’ job is to secrete enzymes and hormones that help the body digest food and process sugars. It is located just behind the stomach.

Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. It is more common among men than women.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and actor Patrick Swayze have all died of pancreatic cancer.

Unexplained weight loss and jaundice can be signs of pancreatic cancer. People with these symptoms should seek medical attention. Chronic abdominal pain is usually a sign of another condition.

Gaddam plans to research the causes of these trends, including examining possible differences between pancreatic tumors in women and men.

“This ongoing work will help us evaluate the effectiveness of new health interventions, with the goal of identifying and addressing disparities in patient outcomes and access to effective treatment,” said Dr. Dan Theodorescu, director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer. “This is an ongoing focus across Cedars-Sinai Cancer, as we serve our diverse population and can also inform public health policy to benefit patients everywhere.”

The findings were published online February 10 in the journal Gastroenterology.

The US National Cancer Institute has more information about pancreatic cancer.

SOURCE: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, press release, February 10, 2023

Pancreatic cancer rates rise faster among women

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