Throughout National Cancer Prevention Month we’ll share risk factors, scientific research, webinars on topics touching on prevention and facts about how you can make an impact.
The first step on the pancreatic cancer prevention path is making healthy lifestyle choices. It takes decisive action to commit to quit smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding diabetes and managing pancreatitis. Learning about these lifestyle changes, or modifiable risk factors, empowers us to make healthy choices that can help prevent cancer. Adopting healthy lifestyle choices is the first step towards decreasing risk.
While we can change some risk factors, others are beyond our control, like family history and genetics. Knowledge is power when it comes to these immutable risk factors. It is important to know your family history and determine if there are familial risk factors. Seeking out a qualified geneticist allows those at an increased risk for hereditary pancreatic cancer to make proactive choices. While there is still no early screening test for pancreatic cancer, those with a genetic predisposition may qualify for screening programs. Across the US researchers have created pancreatic cancer tumor registries to track people with an increased genetic risk. Some of these registries include:
- The Pancreatic Tumor Registry at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)
- The National Familial Pancreatic Tumor Registry (NFPTR) at Johns Hopkins University
- The Cancer of the Pancreas Screening-5 (CAPS5) Study which is also a clinical trial currently conducted at 8 universities
Researchers continue to investigate what puts us at risk organically, genetically, environmentally and socioeconomically so that we can better prevent and treat pancreatic cancer. While scientists continue to explore and uncover what leads to pancreatic cancer, the first step on the path to prevention is to stay vigilant with your healthy choices.
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The Hirshberg Foundation funds research to better understand the biology behind tumor development as well as to fully understand how environmental factors can accelerate tumor growth. This research contributes to pancreatic cancer prevention, early screening and treatment options.
The Sahin-Toth Laboratory, under the direction of leading pancreatic disease researcher, Dr. Sahin-Toth, is contributing to our understanding of this disease and one of the largest risk factors: chronic pancreatitis. In 2020, the Sahin-Toth lab published 10 papers, including a new study that looks at lifestyle factors and acute pancreatitis to determine prevention strategies. Working closely with the Hirshberg Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research Laboratory these two labs are working to better understand how diet, obesity, genetics & inflammation contribute to pancreatic cancer acceleration.