Pancreatic cancer takes thousands of lives each year, so there’s no better time for family members and their elderly relatives to learn more about this devastating disease. Family caregivers that are responsible for the care of their aging parent quickly learn that they need to watch out for certain symptoms that may signal that it’s time for a visit to the doctor. The risk of an elderly person developing pancreatic cancer is higher than other adults so family caregivers need to learn to recognize some of the early symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
Statistics on Pancreatic Cancer in the Elderly
Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. More than half of all new pancreatic cancer cases are discovered in adults that are over 75 years old. The pancreas is a gland that produces hormones and digestive juices that help the body function. This type of cancer is more common in the elderly and it is rare for it to appear in adults under 40 years old.
To treat pancreatic cancer, surgeons generally remove all or part of the pancreas. The patient goes through radiation and chemotherapy as needed, depending on the severity of the cancer. Most studies focus on treatments for younger adults, and there hasn’t been as much of a focus on the elderly. Part of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the disease and how it affects people of all ages.
Risk Factors in the Elderly
There are certain risk factors that may help family caregivers with evaluating an aging parent’s symptoms. Elderly adults are more likely at risk to develop pancreatic cancer if they have a family history of the disease or if they’ve suffered from pancreatitis. A family history of other cancers may also play a role. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity and diabetes. Race and ethnicity may also boost the risk factor as African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews have a higher incidence of pancreatic cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
The symptoms for pancreatic cancer are hard to miss. The top signs that something is amiss include abdominal bloating, nausea, indigestion, vomiting and a diminished appetite. Some people experience unexplained weight loss, pain in the back or abdomen and jaundice. Those who have suddenly developed diabetes or whose diabetes is no longer under good control may also be at risk.
If a family caregiver notices these symptoms in their elderly parent and the risk factors line up, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment with their doctor. Early detection is the key to successfully treating any kind of cancer, and pancreatic cancer is no different. While the symptoms are also common with other, less serious conditions, it’s better to be safe than sorry. There are also pancreatic cancer support groups locally and nationally that can provide important information and elderly care support to the newly diagnosed and their family members.
How Home Care Can Help
If a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is a reality for your senior loved one, consider the many ways that home care can benefit them. From transportation to treatment appointments and medication reminders, to ambulatory assistance and respite for family caregivers, elderly care providers can be invaluable in the recovery process. Consider starting elderly care at the beginning of your senior loved one’s cancer journey, before it becomes overwhelming and stressful for your and your loved one.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING ELDERLY CARE IN FARMERS BRANCH, TX, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE TODAY. CALL (214) 272-2188.