Family Health

Be Aware of Pancreatic Cancer’s Warning Signs

32e321b8ea7b90c78053_Dr._Angela_Alistar_2017.jpg
Angela Alistar, MD, medical director, GI medical oncology, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Atlantic Health System.
32e321b8ea7b90c78053_Dr._Angela_Alistar_2017.jpg

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and nationally renowned gastrointestinal (GI) cancer physician-scientist Angela Alistar, MD thinks it is critical that everyone learn how to recognize the warning signs of this aggressive cancer. Dr. Alistar is medical director of GI medical oncology at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center of Morristown Medical Center, Atlantic Health System. 

 

“Pancreatic cancer has a very low survival rate,” said Dr. Alistar.  “This is due in part to the fact that it is often discovered in a late stage.  Early detection can make a difference.”

 

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, with a five-year survival rate of just seven percent.  Fifty-three percent of patients are diagnosed with advanced disease.*

Sign Up for E-News

 

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, pancreatic cancer may cause only vague, unexplained symptoms.  They include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pain (usually in the abdomen or back)
  • Digestive problems, such as poor appetite, indigestion or nausea
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Changes in stool, such as diarrhea, constipation – or both
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood clots, which may cause symptoms such as swelling, pain or tenderness in the affected area
  • Sudden onset of type 2 diabetes, especially in those with a low body mass index (BMI)  

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, which account for fewer than 5% of all pancreatic cancers, may cause symptoms such as weight loss, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness and skin rash.

 

“If you have any of these symptoms, speak with your doctor right away, as it may mean pancreatic cancer.” said Dr. Alistar.  “If pancreatic cancer is caught early, before it has spread to the lymph nodes and can be surgically removed, chances of survival increase significantly.”

 

Who Is At Risk?

 

While not everyone who gets pancreatic cancer has risks factors, there are certain things that may increase the risk.  According to the American Cancer Society, they include: smoking or chewing tobacco; being overweight or obese; workplace exposure to carcinogenic chemicals used in dry cleaning and metal working; age (the risk of getting pancreatic cancer increases at age 45, and the average age at diagnosis is 71); gender (men are slightly more likely to get pancreatic cancer than women); race (African Americans are slightly more likely to get this cancer than whites); family history (some who get pancreatic cancer have a family history of it, but most do not); inherited genetic syndromes (about 10% of all cases are due to genetic mutations); type 2 diabetes; chronic pancreatitis; cirrhosis of the liver; stomach problems (H. pylori infection and excess stomach acid may increase risk, according to some studies); and heavy alcohol use, because it may lead to chronic pancreatitis or cirrhosis, both of which can cause pancreatic cancer.

 

Diagnosis and Treatment

 

The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer generally starts with the physician taking a medical history and conducting a physical exam.  If pancreatic cancer is suspected, the physician may order medical imaging tests, and possibly refer the patient to a gastroenterologist and order blood tests.  If these tests turn up something suspicious, a biopsy may be done or the suspected tumor may be removed and then biopsied.

 

“Current treatments for late-stage disease may help, but are not optimal,” said Dr. Alistar.  “New treatments are urgently needed.” 

 

Dr. Alistar is testing just such a promising treatment. CPI-613 (Rafael Pharmaceuticals) is an advanced, first-in-class drug that offers new hope for people with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Alistar has conducted early-stage clinical trials of this drug, one of which was published in The Lancet Oncology this year and presented at a recent international scientific conference. Starting in early 2018, Dr. Alistar will serve as the Co-Principal Investigator with Philip Philip, MD, PhD of Karmanos Cancer Institute on a planned multi-center Phase III study of CPI-613 in combination with modified FOLFIRINOX, a multidrug treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer.  She has led four other clinical trials of CPI-613 for GI cancers, as well as studies of other novel oncology drugs, and research to determine disease processes and genetic factors in cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. 

 

Dr. Alistar joined Atlantic Health System earlier this year from the Wake Forest School of Medicine, where she led the GI oncology team, bringing cutting-edge treatments to patients. While there, she designed, secured funding for and conducted five investigator-initiated therapeutic clinical trials. She was the Principal Investigator at Wake Forest University of the Precision Oncology study, which is poised to generate new hypotheses in the era of genomic driven clinical trials.

 

Dr. Alistar is a physician with Atlantic Hematology Oncology at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center -Morristown Medical Center campus.  She is affiliated with Atlantic Medical Group, and is a participating provider in the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization. Dr. Alistar can be reached at 973-971-7111.  

* Data source:  American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2016. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2017.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Sparta

Sparta Police: Obstructed View Leads to Plain View Arrest

January 20, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A Parsippany man was arrested on drug charges after a traffic stop on Route 15.  On January 18 around 9:50 p.m. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped Christopher Allocca, 21, because he had a large object hanging from his rearview mirror, police say.

When Rubino spoke with Allocca the officer smelled raw marijuana.  He also saw a ziplock bag of pills in the mesh pocket of a ...

Franklin Police: Fake Bomb Threat Called in to Distract Police

FRANKLIN, NJ – A man called in a fake bomb threat to distract police from an attempted burglary, Franklin police report.  On January 13 Franklin Borough Police were called to the Shop Rite Plaza because of a bomb threat that had been reported by a caller.

An employee at Dunkin Donuts assisted in the investigation when he reported information about the suspected caller.  The ...

Sparta Police: Several Wanted People Picked Up in Traffic Stops

SPARTA, NJ – Traffic stops have let to the apprehension of people on outstanding warrants in the past week. On January 10 around 8:45 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Snyder stopped a gray Nissan Altima for having an expired inspection sticker, according to police. 

When the officer checked the driver’s identification Snyder found Rene Figuerroa, 57, had a suspended license ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, January 24, 12:00 PM

Sussex County Library, Louise Childs Branch, Stanhope

Acing the Interview II: Mock Interviews

Business & Finance

Carousel_image_59dff0942bb8fc85575d_boe_sign__3_

Mon, January 29, 7:30 PM

Mohawk Avenue School, Sparta

Sparta Board of Education January Meeting ...

Education

Carousel_image_25dd425f691d71e54643_sussex_county_library

Wed, January 31, 12:00 PM

Stanhope

Master the Art of Networking

Business & Finance

Carousel_image_30a4118f95fa8e5e705a_sussex_county_library

Wed, January 31, 1:00 PM

Stanhope

Job Seeker Meet and Greet

Business & Finance

Carousel_image_0a5fcad6243f8a3aa0e5_sussex_county_library

Sat, February 17, 10:00 AM

Sussex County Main Library, Newton

Path to Employment: Starting your Job Search

Business & Finance

Between the Bread Celebrates Two Year Anniversary

January 16, 2018

NEWTON, NJ— Between the Bread, owned by 22 year old, Newton High School graduate, Erin Louglas, celebrated on Saturday, January 13. It was two years since the doors first opened. 

This little cafe has thrived, despite 70 percent of Newton’s Spring Street filled with vacant store fronts, according to Newton Town Council when a business development plan ...

Rutgers Historians Collecting 2018 Women's March Signs

January 21, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Believe it or not, we’re living through history right now. That’s why the Rutgers University Libraries want to collect artifacts and memorabilia from the present day.

If you took part in yesterday's women's march in Morristown, or one of the "sister" marches across the state, you should consider donating your signs and protest memorabilia ...

Top Family-Voted Sledding Spots in Sussex and Morris Counties

Snow-bound and down? Team Nest Builder says, “Get out of the house, grab that dusty Radio Flyer sled out of the garage, and head to one of these Sussex or Morris County hills for brrrrrrrreath-taking fun!”

 

MORRIS COUNTY:

Boonton:


Tourne County Park (a portion of the park area an officially designated sledding hill)

Chester:  


Grove ...

OPEN HOUSE Check out this TROPHY 3BR Parsippany Home SUNDAY

It's time to TREAT YOURSELF to a real trophy home!  Seeking a stunning 3BR/2.5 Bath pad with panache in upscale Puddingstone Heights that's both tranquil and private, yet minutes from Morristown?  29 High Ridge Road's your house! And you can check it out in person at our OPEN HOUSE this Sunday, January 14th from 1pm-3pm.  

Located ...

10 Tips to Stop Those Pipes Freezing During the Northern NJ Icy Blast

Brrrrrr!!!!! This Northern New Jersey cold weather means chapped lips, dry hands and worse, frozen home pipes.  Team Nest Builder advises avoiding the disaster of bursting home pipes by adding these 10 tips to your winter home protection repertoire:

 

No Hosers!

Disconnect those outdoor hoses! A water-filled hose connected to the faucet freezes, ice backs up into the pipe ...

Man-flu may be for real!

Man-flu may be for real!
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES
A study published in the British Medical Journal on December 27, 2017 reporting the results of an investigation into the existence of “man-flu” suggests that flu in men may really be more severe and cause worse symptoms than flu in women.

Abstract of original journal article: ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 010

On this week’s AtlantiCast, we take you to the groundbreaking for an expansion to Morristown Medical Center, introduce you to the newest babies of 2018 at Atlantic Health System and share some must-see winter weather tips!

 

Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders January 10, 2018 meeting

NEWTON, NJ - Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders January 10, 2018 meeting video.

 

Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders January 8, 2018

SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ - The video of the January 8, 2018 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

 

Fly Tying Classes Offered at Sparta VFW

January 20, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Fly Tying classes are being offered at the Sparta VFW by the North Jersey chapter of Fred S. Burroughs Trout Unlimited.  Classes will run from February 6 through March 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. 

The cost is $50 for the seven sessions.  Students under 16-year-old must be accompanied by an adult. 

Materials and tools will be supplied for beginners to use in ...