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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Pancreatic cancer often is hidden and doesn't cause symptoms until it has spread. It is a leading cause of cancer deaths in the world.
November 19 is World Pancreatic Cancer Day, but the entire month of November is meant to bring awareness to this disease.
Advances in screening and early detection for high-risk people, minimally invasive surgical innovations and new genetic classifications are changing the outlook for pancreatic cancer, says Dr. Michael Wallace, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist.
Some of the benefits include:
In addition, for a small number of pancreatic cancer cases, one clue can help doctors find the tumor early, while it's still curable. That clue is an unexpected diagnosis of diabetes. In these cases, the pancreatic cancer is actually causing the diabetes, Dr. Wallace says.
And the key feature is that the diabetes appears where you wouldn't expect it – such as in someone who is maintaining or losing weight, someone who gets diabetes at an older age, or someone who uses tobacco.
Dr. Wallace and colleagues are focused on early detection. Here is a sampling of their research:
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