- Posted by jdavis on August 24, 2011
Pancreatic cancer is rarely found at an early stage. Because the pancreas is located deep inside the body, doctors cannot see or feel early tumors during routine physical examinations. There are currently no blood tests or easily available screening tests that can accurately detect early cancers of the pancreas.
Some blood tests can be used to detect advanced pancreatic cancer or determine whether pancreatic cancer has returned (recurred) in someone who has been treated for pancreatic cancer.
CA 19-9 – Pancreatic cancer cells release CA 19-9 into the blood and this substance can be detected by blood tests. However, by the time blood levels are high enough to be consistently detected by the methods that are available, the cancer is no longer in its early stages. This test is sometimes used after treatment to find out if the tumor has recurred (come back). But it is not recommended for routine screening of people without symptoms or a known diagnosis of cancer.
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) – CEA testing can detect advanced pancreatic cancer in some people. But it is not sensitive enough to find cancer at an early stage.
The best way to prevent pancreatic cancer is to avoid the known risk factors whenever possible.
Avoid smoking – Cigarette smoking is the major and most avoidable risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Tobacco use also increases the risk of developing cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx, esophagus, kidney, bladder, and some other organs. If you smoke, please consult your doctor for help quitting.
Eat a healthy diet – The Cancer Recovery Foundation, along with the Amercian Cancer Society, recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, as well as servings of whole-grain foods from plant sources, such as breads, cereals, grain products, rice, pasta, or beans. You should also eat less red meat, especially processed meat. Eating a healthy diet could lower your risk of developing pancreatic cancer, as well as several other cancers and some other diseases.
Exercise regularly – Experts think that getting a moderate amount of exercise every week can reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer. You should try to exercise for 30 minutes on most days.