Pancreatic Cancer?

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What you need to know:

This week former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pancreas. Reportedly, the tumor was discovered early during a routine medical examination. Former Senator Reid plans to receive chemotherapy and his doctors report that he has a favorable prognosis.

An estimated 12.6 per 100,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer annually, and it is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Pancreatic cancer affects more men than women, occurring most often in older patients between the ages of 65 and 74. Only 8.5 percent of patients survive five years following diagnosis.

Typically, pancreatic cancer is discovered later, which leads to a poorer prognosis. Presenting signs and symptoms may include enlarged gallbladder, epigastric pain, right or left upper quadrant abdominal pain, severe back pain, weight loss, or jaundice. Some risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer are older age, smoking, type I or type II diabetes, elevated body mass index, chronic pancreatitis, or ABO blood group status. Routine screening is not recommended because there is a low risk for pancreatic cancer in the general population. However, patients presenting with clinical findings associated with pancreatic cancer should undergo diagnostic imaging with dual-phase, contrast-enhanced spiral CT to confirm diagnosis.

Read more about pancreatic cancer here:

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19e > Chapter 112: Pancreatic Cancer

The MD Anderson Manual of Medical Oncology, 3e > Chapter 21: Pancreatic Cancer   

Hazzard's Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, 7e > Chapter 100: Gastrointestinal Malignancies

NIH > National Cancer Institute

Melanie Allison, DNP, MSN, RN, ACNP-BC

Executive Manager, Education & Learning, McGraw-Hill

Melanie Allison is the Executive Manager of Education & Learning with McGraw Hill. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from The Johns Hopkins University. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, specializing as an acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP), from Vanderbilt University. Melanie has more than 20 years of experience as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in adult cardiology and advanced lipid management. She is a part-time faculty member at a top school of nursing where she has taught for more than 16 years.