Movember® is an annual event that originated in 2003 as an attempt to raise awareness about men’s health issues. Though the issue Movember® addresses is serious, the annual November effort also has a lighthearted side, as men are encouraged to grow moustaches as part of the approach to raising awareness about men’s health. That component adds an element of fun and might even encourage more men to participate in an event that Movember® organizers claim has funded the development of 54 inventions, 70 therapies and 107 diagnostic tests for prostate cancer since 2006.
Movember® organizers have emphasized raising awareness about mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. However, the month of November presents a great opportunity to raise awareness about additional issues affecting men’s health, including pancreatic cancer.
The World Cancer Research Fund International reports that pancreatic cancer is the twelfth most common cancer in men across the globe. In addition, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network notes that men are at slightly greater risk for pancreatic cancer than women. Recognition of pancreatic cancer symptoms can be an important step for men who want to embrace the spirit of Movember® and do all they can to live longer, healthier lives.
Recognizing and understanding the symptoms
The American Cancer Society notes that pancreatic cancers often do not cause any signs or symptoms in their early stages. By the time symptoms present, the cancer has likely metastasized, or spread beyond the pancreas to other parts of the body. However, it’s still beneficial to learn to recognize the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, as such knowledge may compel individuals to report them to a doctor, who can then seek a cause and even develop a potentially life-saving treatment plan. Though the presence of one or more of the following symptoms do not necessarily mean an individual has pancreatic cancer, they should be reported to a physician immediately.
• Jaundice: Jaundice is a yellowing of the eyes and skin that the ACS notes is often one of the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Dark urine, light-colored or greasy stools and itchy skin are additional signs of jaundice.
• Back or belly pain: The pancreas is a gland in the abdominal region, and pain in the back or belly could be indicative of pancreatic cancer. Back pain associated with pancreatic cancer could be the result of the cancer spreading to the nerves that surround the pancreas.
• Weight loss/poor appetite: The ACS reports that unexplained weight loss is very common in people with pancreatic cancer, who frequently have little or no appetite.
• Nausea: Pancreatic cancer can sometimes press on the far end of the stomach, making it hard for food to get through. The ACS indicates that this can contribute to nausea, vomiting and pain that worsens after eating.
Pancreatic cancer is one of many men’s health issues that deserve attention by men who want to live healthier.