India’s Former Defence Minister and Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar passed away on March 17, after battling pancreatic cancer for over a year.

The brave politician fought the disease and served the country till his last breath but eventually succumbed to its complications.

Pancreatic cancer is the 11th most common cancer and is perhaps one of the toughest to treat. Under this condition, the cancer growth begins in pancreas a vital organ that lies behind the lower part of the abdomen. The main function of pancreas is releasing enzymes to aid in digestion and secreting hormones for managing the levels of blood glucose.

Pancreatic cancer is very hard to detect in early stages and it rapidly spreads to other organs. Doctors till date are unable to find out what causes this deadly form of cancer but have agreed on few factors that might trigger this condition.

Genetics:

Doctors find that genetics play a role in causing pancreatic cancer. Inherited gene changes may cause up to 10 per cent of pancreatic cancers. Mutations caused in the genes of BRCA1 and BRCA2, mutations in the PALB2 gene, familial atypical multiple mole melanoma syndrome, familial pancreatitis, lynch syndrome are other known genetic risk factors that cause this cancer.

Smoking:

Long term smoking is one of the major risk factors behind pancreatic cancer. Around 25% of pancreatic cancers are caused due to heavy smoking and smokers are at high risk of getting this cancer compared to non-smokers. To reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, stop smoking immediately.

Excessive Weight:

Obesity is another contributing risk factor as studies reveal that those with a body mass index of 30 or more, are more likely to get pancreatic cancer. Extra weight around waistline increases the risk of pancreatic cancer significantly.

Diabetes:

Diabetics are more prone to pancreatic cancer and is most common in the people suffering from type-2 diabetes. If you are a diabetic and overweight, lose extra kilograms to be safe from pancreatic cancer.

Age and Gender:

Men are more prone to pancreatic cancer than women. It is very uncommon to find it under the age of 40 and can affect those in late 60s.

What To Watch Out For

Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms in pancreatic cancer doesn’t appear till the advanced stage. The usual symptoms include, pain in upper abdomen radiating to the back, loss of appetite, sudden loss of weight, fatigue and sudden spike in levels of blood glucose, jaundice, blood clots.

If you find any of the above symptoms, see a doctor for right diagnosis. In the case of pancreatic cancer, the usual treatment protocol includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and medication.