Family Health

Be Aware of Pancreatic Cancer’s Warning Signs

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

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

Union

Investors Bank October 2017 Fed Normalization Process

The Federal Reserve has increased interest rates twice this year and could do so again in December.  But the economy is hardly booming along and inflation remains tame.  Are the central bankers crazy?  No!  They simply are trying to add some monetary policy arrows to their largely empty quiver.

The near collapse of the world financial system in 2008, forced the Fed to take ...

The Week Ahead in Union

December 11, 2017

UNION, NJ - Happenings in Union this week:

Monday, 12/11

•Lego Club, 3:30 p.m., Union Public Library

•Adult Prize BINGO, 1:00 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library

•Snowman Slime, 4:00 p.m., Union Public Library

•Township Committee Conference, 6:00 p.m., Town Hall

•Bite Club, 7:00 p.m., Union Public Library

Tuesday, 12/12

•Pre-K Story and Craft: ...

T.Y.L.E.R.'s Project Collecting Blankets for Blessing Bags

UNION, NJ - Union resident Marilyn Feliciano and her son Tyler, as part of their organization T.Y.L.E.R.'s Project, is running a Blessing Bag campaign this holiday season.

The Township of Union will be collecting blankets for the blessing bags in Town Hall until Dec. 13.

Union High School Prospective Student Orientation for 7th & 8th Graders

UNION, NJ - Important information regarding the course of study, honors classes, requirements for graduation, resources, school activities and general information will be presented at Union High School's Prospective Student Orientation event.

Information provided will include:

21 AP classes
24 honors courses
Nationally recognized visual and performing arts programs
21 varsity ...

Union High School's November Female Athlete of the Month: Kayla Veloso-Lima

December 12, 2017

UNION, NJ – Kayla Veloso-Lima has been chosen Union High School’s November Female Athlete of the Month, sponsored by Service Professionals. 

Veloso-Lima, class of 2019, is a three-year starter for the women’s soccer team.  In 22 games this season, she has had 17 goals and 12 assists.

What’s your favorite part of being a high school athlete?

My favorite ...

Union High School's November Male Athlete of the Month: Andrew Sanborn

UNION, NJ - Andrew Sanborn has been chosen Union High School’s November Male Athlete of the Month, sponsored by Service Professionals. 

Sanborn, a sophomore, is Union football team’s starting quarterback.  He recorded 2,014 yards passing, a first in Union football history.

What’s your favorite part of being a high school athlete?

My favorite part of being a ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_a2c71068bb6081cd7dca_babies_in_the_library

Wed, December 13, 10:30 AM

Union Public Library, Union

Babies in the Library

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_46ef7ae2e73bd3afe66e_b37a182986c5cd83cfa3_playdough

Wed, December 13, 4:00 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Hot Chocolate Playdough

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_86dc2446724ad5509f45_a515fe4466b4cad5fd8e_santa_at_bcb

Wed, December 13, 4:00 PM

BCB Union, Union

Santa is Coming to BCB Union

Union's Amanda Ferrigno Performs in Coastal Carolina University's International Poetry Slam

December 7, 2017

CONWAY, SC - Amanda Ferrigno, a hospitality, resort, and tourism management major from Union performed in Coastal Carolina University's International Poetry Slam on Nov. 16 at James J. Johnson Auditorium.

The Center for Global Engagement and the International Programs Committee coordinated the event for International Week at Coastal that is celebrated Nov. 13-17. International Week is ...

Vauxhall's Eddie Freeman to Celebrate His 100th Birthday

UNION, NJ - The Township of Union Senior Center will be hosting a 100th birthday celebration for Julian Edward Freeman on Friday, Dec. 22.

Freeman, affectionately known as “Eddie and Duke”, was born on December 22, 1917 in Newark.  Freeman was the third of fifteen children.

Freeman moved to Vauxhall at the age of three with his mother, Maude Margaret Vaughn and father ...

Elizabeth Man Injured in Shooting Monday Night

December 12, 2017

ELIZABETH, NJ--Police are searching for the suspect responsible for a shooting that left a man injured in a residential community in Elizabeth's Elmora section Monday night.

Police responded to reports of shots fired in the vicinity of 728 Eaton Street shortly before 8:30 p.m.

The victim was walking on Eaton Street when an armed male suspect attempted to rob him at gunpoint according to ...

Winter Weather Advisory Issued as First Snowfall of the Season Arrives on Saturday

UNION, NJ - The first snowfall of the season will be arriving on Saturday morning according to the National Weather Service(NWS) in New York. 

A “Winter Weather Advisory” is in effect from 6 a.m. Saturday morning until 6 a.m. on Sunday.

According to the NWS advisory, Union County can expect snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches, with the possibility of snow-covered ...

Elizabeth Woman Victim in Overnight Shooting in the City

ELIZABETH, NJ— A shooting that left a woman seriously injured in Elizabeth on Wednesday night has authorities searching for the shooter.

While Elizabeth Police were sitting in an unmarked car around 11:47 p.m. in the area of Westminster Avenue and Parker Road, when they heard nine to 10 gunshots coming from the area, Police Captain Andrew King said.

The 45-year-old victim was found in ...

AtlantiCast: Episode 008

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll learn about a groundbreaking new clinical trial in the fight against pancreatic cancer, meet an award-winning child neurologist at Goryeb Children’s Hospital and hear about the new Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center at Atlantic Orthopedic Institute – plus stay tuned at the end to see our debut episode of the AtlantiCast Medical ...

New Opportunity for Women Business Owners in Union County

December 13, 2017

UNION COUNTY, NJ--The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds women business owners that they may be eligible for discounted loans offered by the Union County Economic Development Corporation.

UCEDC has been named the exclusive New Jersey lending partner for discounted loans available to women-owned businesses, through a grant from the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program. The ...

Club Metro's Five-Year Anniversary Special

Can you believe it’s been 5 years since we opened Club Metro USA in Union? We strive each and every day to provide our community with a safe, resort-style fitness facility, and we’re so appreciative of the support from all of our members. What better way to say thank you and celebrate our 5 Year Anniversary than with some savings?!

**From now through December 31st sign up for $0 ...

Volunteers “Step Up” For Unique Geology in Union County Parks

The last Saturday Trail Work Day of 2017 was a success as 26 volunteers stepped out into the cold to install steps in three newly re-routed sections of the Orange Trail in Union County’s Watchung Reservation.

The steps will help visitors get a close-up view of unique geological features including an ancient lava flow and glacial erratics, the non-native rocks left behind following the ...

New Jersey Veterans Eligible for Income Tax Exemption

UNION COUNTY, NJ--The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders would like veterans to know they may be eligible for an exemption on their income taxes this year.

Military veterans honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty by the last day of the tax year are eligible for a $3,000 exemption on their Income Tax return.

Spouses and civil union partners are ...

Columns

AtlantiCast: Episode 008

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll learn about a groundbreaking new clinical trial in the fight against pancreatic cancer, meet an award-winning child neurologist at Goryeb Children’s Hospital and hear about the new Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center at Atlantic Orthopedic Institute – plus stay tuned at the end to see our debut episode of the AtlantiCast Medical ...

'An Act of God' takes a leap of faith at George Street

‘An Act of God’ takes leap of faith at George Street Playhouse

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – If anyone can portray God, it must be Kathleen Turner. Local theatre goers are fortunate indeed, to have the throaty, stage smart Turner in our midst.

Turner, of course, is not only an acclaimed actress, but a female God with plenty to say about the ups and downs of religion ...

Unclaimed Million Dollar Lottery Ticket Sold at Service Area on NJ Turnpike

December 1, 2017

MILLTOWN, NJ - Who wouldn't want to find out they were holding a million dollar lottery ticket? Well, someone is. An unclaimed Cash4Life second-tier lottery ticket worth one million dollars will expire on December 8, 2017, if it is not claimed. The ticket was purchased at the Joyce Kilmer Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike in Milltown.

The rest stop is located at the 78.7 mile post ...

Frank Wants to Find a Forever Home Before Christmas

December 13, 2017

UNION, NJ - Meet Frank!

Frank is an 8 month old kitten! He is extremely sweet and likes to get into a little mischief from time to time. He loves toys and other cats. His eye is completely healed and does not need any further medical treatment. Frank is looking for his forever home before Christmas!

The Union Animal Shelter is located at 980 Jefferson Ave.  Hours are Monday - Saturday, ...

Butters is at the Union Animal Shelter

UNION, NJ - Meet Butters!

Butters was found as a stray. She’s about five-six months old and extremely sweet, according to the Union Animal Shelter.   She will be the perfect lap cat for any family.

The Union Animal Shelter is located at 980 Jefferson Ave.  Hours are Monday - Saturday, 12:00 - 3:00 p.m.  Contact them at 908-851-5230.

 

Letters to the Editor