Pancreatic Cancer and the Elderly

Health care workers and medical professionals endeavor to educate and inform people about pancreatic cancer. Many people don’t know much about the disease nor do they know the symptoms that might lead to early detection for better treatment results. It’s a sad fact that most people don’t even know what the pancreas is and are therefore not in a good position to help their elderly relatives detect early symptoms. There’s no better time than the present to learn more about pancreatic cancer and how it affects the elderly.

Elderly Care in East Grand Rapids MI: Pancreatic Cancer

Elderly Care in East Grand Rapids MI: Pancreatic Cancer

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

The pancreas is a gland that is nestled in front of the spine and behind the stomach. It aides in digestion by producing fluids that help break down food. It also produces hormones as well as insulin, a substance that helps the body regulate blood sugar. When some pancreas cells grow uncontrollably and form a tumor, then it becomes pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer in the Elderly.

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country. Most family caregivers know that elderly adults are more at risk for developing certain diseases and illnesses, such as cancer. Pancreatic cancer is particularly common in elderly adults, with more than half of all new cases occurring in seniors over the age of 60. It is rarely diagnosed in adults under the age of 40.

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer.

Old age is one of the biggest risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer. Other risk factors include obesity, diabetes, smoking, a history of pancreatic cancer in the family or a diagnosis of pancreatitis. Some researchers believe there may be a link to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer based on race and ethnicity as Asians, Caucasians, and Hispanics have traditionally lower rates of the disease than Ashkenazi Jews and African Americans do.

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer.

Because an early diagnosis is so important for pancreatic cancer treatment, family caregivers should take the opportunities available during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and learn about the signs and symptoms in the elderly. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, and digestive issues. Other symptoms include unexplained weight loss, jaundice, and new onset diabetes.

Treating Pancreatic Cancer.

When pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in the elderly, most doctors will recommend surgery to remove most or all of the pancreas. Depending on the individual’s health and the spread of the disease, chemotherapy and radiation may be used to treat an elderly pancreatic cancer patient. Interestingly, there is a lack of research in treating pancreatic cancer in the elderly, even though they make up the majority of cases. More research is needed to ensure that the current treatments are the best for seniors

As part of providing quality elderly care for a loved one, it’s important for family members to notice signs and symptoms that might otherwise go undetected. Family caregivers with knowledge about pancreatic cancer can provide better elderly care when they know what to look for.

If you or someone you know needs help with elderly care in East Grand Rapids, MI, contact Gauthier Family Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services in our community. Call us at (616) 258-2300 for more information.



About Pancreatic Cancer

About Dan Gauthier

Dan Gauthier has a long and successful business pedigree. He spent his college years working in the restaurant business and worked in various executive management positions at Universal Forest Products, Inc. over a span of 17 years, and Therm Technology / Family Safety Products for 12 years.

When the recession hit in 2008 Dan was “downsized” from UFP and spent a few years consulting for local companies Amway and Cascade Engineering. During this period Dan’s in-laws were experiencing catastrophic health problems and it required Dan’s wife Marion to focus full time on caregiving for her mother. Marion enlisted help from a local home care agency and it did not go well. This experience led to the creation of Gauthier Family Home Care, a home care agency that is uniquely holistic and family centric. Dan now works full time running GFHC.