In the abdomen lies the pancreas, an important gland that produces insulin and digestive enzymes. Unfortunately, it’s vulnerable to pancreatic cancer, which can be difficult to detect early because it doesn’t typically produce noticeable symptoms.
Recent data has shown that pancreatic cancer is more common in men than in women, accounting for 3% of all cancers in the United States and 7% of all cancer-related deaths. However, a recent nationwide study in the US has found that the incidence of pancreatic cancer is increasing at a faster rate in women than in men. The study, published in the journal Gastroenterology on February 10, examined data from the National Programme of Cancer Registries database from 2001 to 2018.
The researchers from Cedars-Sinai Cancer analyzed the data and discovered that the rates of pancreatic cancer in both men and women have been increasing, but the rates among women under the age of 55 have been increasing at a higher rate compared to those among men in the same age group. Young Black women were found to have higher rates of pancreatic cancer than Black men of the same age.
The study also revealed that the mortality rate from pancreatic cancer has declined in men, but remained unchanged in women. This alarming trend of pancreatic cancer rates increasing faster in women than in men is likely linked to the rise in the more aggressive form of pancreatic cancer, adenocarcinoma histological subtype.
While prolonged abdominal pain is not typically a sign of pancreatic cancer, symptoms such as jaundice or unexplained weight loss may indicate the presence of the disease. Srinivas Gaddam, MD, the senior author of the study and associate director of Pancreatic Biliary Research at Cedars-Sinai, urged people to be aware of the small increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer and take action to reduce their risk by stopping smoking, reducing alcohol use, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing their weight.