(WFSB) -- November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. This year there is a renewed focus on testing for this deadly disease.
Julie Fleshman is raising awareness for pancreatic cancer. Fleshman’s father passed away because of pancreatic cancer.
“It’s horrible to watch someone you love go through that,” Fleshman says.
She says that he is the reason she started raising awareness in the first place. Fleshman hopes that raising awareness will save lives.
“Unfortunately, there is no early detection test for pancreatic cancer so still the symptoms are vague. And people are diagnosed late stage making it difficult to treat,” says Fleshman.
However, there has been a lot of progress made when it comes to research and medical advancements.
“Patients, once they are diagnosed, should have both biomarker testing for their tumor and genetic testing for inherited mutations because that information will provide the patient and their health care professional with information to determine the best treatment for their patient,” says Fleshman.
Fleshmen also recommends getting a genetic test if a first-degree relative is diagnosed.
“Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. 60,000 Americans [have been] diagnosed this year. The 5-year survival rate is just 10%,” says Fleshman.
“There are some new blood tests for patients at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer. None of them are full proof screening tests, none of them are early detection, but we are definitely making important steps toward better understanding people’s risk and how to follow someone at high risk of pancreatic cancer,” Fleshmen says.
Experts say knowing your risk is the first step.