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Pancreatic Cancer: What You Should Know

November 25, 2019

As part of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November, Carl Chakmakjian, D.O., who sees patients in Waco, Gatesville, and Mexia, discusses pancreatic cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

What are the most important things for newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients to know?

It’s important for patients to understand that a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is not an automatic terminal diagnosis. Treatment methods are constantly advancing. Medical oncologists can help patients coordinate their care to best manage the cancer, working in collaboration with an oncologic surgeon and/or a radiation oncologist to determine the best treatment plan for the patient’s specific cancer.

In your opinion, what are the most effective preventative measures against pancreatic cancer?

Smoking is a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer. In addition, alcohol should only be consumed in moderation, and a healthy, low-fat diet and regular routine of cardiovascular exercise also play important roles. These measures are often underestimated.

The most effective preventative measure to protect against cancer is leading a healthy lifestyle.”

What are some common misconceptions about pancreatic cancer?

A common misconception is that pancreatic cancer is rare. It’s cited as the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Others believe that pancreatic cancer mostly affects elderly male patients, but nearly a third of pancreatic cancers occur before the age of 65, with men and women being diagnosed with this disease equally. Finally, it’s important for people to know that there are advanced treatment options for this disease.

In your opinion, what is the single most important breakthrough in pancreatic cancer treatment?

Pancreatic cancer treatment options continue to evolve. Clinical trials and combination therapies are improving response rates and helping control some of the symptoms related to advanced stages of pancreatic cancer. Surgical techniques and radiation technology also continue to improve, helping patients and their physicians better manage the disease.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.