Healthy Lifestyle

Jerry Springer, Former Cincinnati Mayor and Longtime TV Host, Dies of Pancreatic Cancer: A Look at the Aggressive and Deadly Cancer and How It Spreads Fast

The news about Jerry Springer’s death was confirmed last Thursday by his family and publicist. According to a family friend, his cancer was brief, and he didn’t have it for long. However, pancreatic cancer, which claimed the former mayor of Cincinnati, is not new, as other celebrities like Alex Trebek, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and John Lewis have succumbed to it. Experts explain that pancreatic cancer is hard to diagnose in its early stages, and most people only get diagnosed after the cancer has progressed. It is also one of the deadliest forms of cancer, with only 12% of diagnosed patients surviving beyond five years. One of the major reasons for this low survival rate is that people are often diagnosed too late for treatment. This is due to the difficulty in detecting the tumor or its symptoms in the early stages.

The pancreas is a small organ that sits in the abdomen near the stomach, gallbladder, liver, and small bowel, and is responsible for digestion and making hormones. It has two different types of cells that handle either digestion or blood sugar control—exocrine cells and endocrine cells. Both types of cells can lead to cancer, though tumors in the exocrine cells, or those that aid in digestion, tend to be more aggressive and deadly. Although Springer’s family has not disclosed which type of pancreatic cancer he had, his diagnosis was likely a form of exocrine cell cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is challenging to diagnose early because it spreads quickly, and once it has metastasized, surgery, the only curative option, is no longer an option. In addition, people often do not experience or notice symptoms of the illness at first, making it easy for them to write them off or confuse them with something else. Some of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer include jaundice, belly pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, loss of appetite, or even diabetes onset. However, it is easy for these symptoms to be confused with irritable bowel disease, gallbladder issues, or other diseases.

Pancreatic cancer is not as common as other forms of cancer, but it is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Felice Schnoll-Sussman, MD, director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, stated that “Only a small amount of patients with pancreas cancer are alive five years after their diagnosis.” Awareness is one of the ways to change this reality, as people must pay more attention to their health, monitor their symptoms, and see a doctor for early detection.

One of the best ways to detect pancreatic cancer early is through screening, but there is no recommendation for screening the general population for pancreatic cancer. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to the symptoms and risk factors. Some of the risk factors for pancreatic cancer include smoking, obesity, family history of pancreatic cancer, and diabetes. For people with risk factors, it is necessary to speak to a doctor about pancreatic cancer screening options.

In conclusion, pancreatic cancer is a deadly form of cancer that spreads quickly and is challenging to detect in its early stages. However, awareness of the symptoms and risk factors can lead to early detection, which is crucial in improving the survival rate of patients with this form of cancer. Although there is currently no general screening recommendation for pancreatic cancer, people with risk factors must take steps to monitor their health and speak to their doctor about screening options.

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