Doctors see rise in pancreatic cancer cases in young patients
Doctors say the number of pancreatic cancer cases is increasing, particularly among younger women 15 to 34 years old.
Dr. Charles Cha, with Hartford HealthCare, says he's not exactly sure why but that part of it could be early detection and some environmental factors.
Early detection is what helped his patient Nicole Brustman from North Branford. She says she has a family history of pancreatic cancer.
Brustman says she had a blood clot in her leg and doctors found her cancer during the scan. She says it's been stressful knowing but now she can get it removed and get on with her life.
"It's been hard, but I've gotten such great feedback from everybody about it," said Brustman. "If anybody can take anything from it - just like I said, take care of yourself, listen to your body and if something's wrong, go get it checked and listen to your doctors and follow through."
Dr. Cha says there are more cases in women under 50 and pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death, with a five-year survival rate of only 10%.
Cha says aside from early detection, lifestyle changes make a difference.
"We know that smoking increases your risk, alcohol increases your risk. We know obesity increases your risk," said Dr. Cha.
Brustman says her grandmother had pancreatic cancer. She says Dr. Cha is confident her cancer will be gone after surgery. She says she's lucky.
Brustman's eight-hour surgery is on Nov. 30 at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport. She says she's nervous about the surgery but knows she's in good hands.
Dr. Cha says symptoms of pancreatic cancer are weight loss, onset diabetes and abdominal pain.