Those We’ve Lost to Pancreatic Cancer

By Charmaine Gooden
Pancreatic Cancer is among the most lethal forms of cancer, right after lung, colon, and breast cancer. It’s the deadly form of cancer that took Apple’s Steve Jobs life, and the list of famous faces who lost their lives to this disease is long: actors Patrick Swayze, Michael Landon, Joan Crawford, Jazz Virtuoso Dizzy Gillespie, Professor Randy Pausch, and opera singer, Luciano Pavarotti. Some have survived. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery in 2009 and was back at work 18 days.

The pancreas is buried deep in the abdomen. The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are unknown, but several factors have been found to increase an individual’s risk. People who smoke cigarettes—the main risk factor—are two to three times more likely to develop the disease than nonsmokers. A diet high in fat and calories may be linked to increased risk. Pancreatic cancer also occurs more often among people with diabetes than those without. Most cases of pancreatic cancer occur in individuals over the age of 60 and men are at higher risk than women. Individuals with a family history of pancreatic cancer or a personal history of chronic pancreatitis are also more at risk than the general population.