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What is Pancreatic Cancer and How Is It Caused by Radiation Exposure?

Pancreatic cancer is the 4th most deadly cancer in the US. It is often very aggressive and difficult to treat because the symptoms that indicate pancreatic cancer or general pancreatic failure are late-onset, meaning that by the time pancreatic cancer is caught by a healthcare professional, the cancer has most likely exacerbated and has spread to other organ systems. Over 55 thousand Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, with many cases resulting from occupational illnesses and exposure to heavy metals or high levels of radiation.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the many diseases compensated through the EEOCIPA and RECA congressional acts for which we at UEW Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care provide free home health care. This article describes the pancreas and its functions, the underlying cause of occupational pancreatic cancer, what cancer does to the pancreas and the body, and potential treatment options. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after working for the US DOE, call us today for free home health services.

Functions of the Pancreas

The pancreas is a large gland that produces hormones our body uses to break down and digest food. One of the most well-known hormones that the pancreas creates is insulin, the hormone that is able to regulate blood sugar levels in the body. The pancreas also creates and secretes enzymes which some people even supplement over-the-counter, including proteases (for breaking down proteins), lipase (for breaking down fat), and amylase (for breaking down carbohydrates). As the pancreas sits right above where the stomach and small intestine meet, it usually injects all of these important digestive materials right as food enters the small intestine for further processing.

The Underlying Cause Of Occupational Pancreatic Cancer

Without the hormones and enzymes our pancreas produces, our bodies would not be able to take in energy from food and our cells would quickly die. The pancreas plays a very important role in the body and supports all of our other systems. When the pancreas is threatened by cancer, the prospect is often dire, but if you developed pancreatic cancer from occupational hazards, how exactly did it happen?

In short, it was likely because of your exposure to ionizing radiation produced by heavy metals. Ionizing radiation is high-energy frequency waves that are given off by radioactive materials, materials which are used for nuclear energy sources around the US. These high energy particles are able to pierce through the body, which can change or severely damage the molecular structure of our cells and the DNA they produce. This either results in the cells no longer functioning or the cells begin to divide too quickly. If these high energy waves ever hit the pancreas, these cells may stop producing insulin or enzymes, and it could potentially spread its cancer cells through the circulatory system.

Prevention, Symptoms, Treatment, and Support

It is difficult to prevent occupational pancreatic cancer if an energy worker was exposed to high levels of radiation throughout their work. If exposed to heavy metals or radioactive material, there are significant risk factors that could eventually contribute to pancreatic cancer, if not other types of cancer as well. One of the best ways to check for pancreatic cancer is to do a screening if you know you were potentially exposed to radiation or heavy metals.

Symptoms, despite them manifesting late in the process, include jaundice, dark brown urine, greying stools, constantly itchy skin, diabetes, severe weight loss, vomiting, blood clots, or any other insulin-deficiency-related problem. The treatment for this type of cancer is often either removal of the tumors or complete extraction of the pancreas. There may be an option for radiation therapy, such as chemotherapy, but doctors will decide on the best course of action depending on your individual situation and how much the cancer has metastasized.

If you or a loved one has pancreatic cancer, know that there are plenty of options available to you. Certain illnesses are covered by DOL EEOICPA. Our EEOICPA and RECA home healthcare professionals are here to help you. Call UEW Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care for a free consultation about how you can receive the free health care you deserve.