NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Doctors are seeing an alarming rise in the number of pancreatic cancer cases each year, particularly in younger women. Instead of going up half a percent each year, St. Vincent’s Medical Center surgical oncologist Charles Cha says it’s now one percent a year. And they are seeing a higher rise in pancreatic cancer cases in younger women.
“Younger women age less than 55 and particularly age less than 35 it’s increased at an alarming rate,” says Dr. Cha.
It isn’t known why, but Dr. Cha says it could be environmental or more cases detected early.
Nicki Brustman is a North Branford math teacher who enjoys a full and busy life with her family. Nineteen years ago she had a blood clot in her leg. This summer it happened again and she sought medical treatment. Nicki’s hematologist ordered a CT scan of her abdomen which revealed something.
“I got a phone call the very next day that they had found something on my pancreas. Nothing that I ever expected. Nothing that I don’t believe that my hematologist was expecting,” says Nicki.
She was told it was a suspicious mass, later described as a neuroendocrine tumor.
“Just by luck, in my case by luck, they found that.”
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death with a five-year survival rate of only about 10 percent.
Nicki is scheduled to have part of her pancreas removed in late November with the Whipple Procedure.
She is grateful that her tumor was detected early and has these words to share: “You have to listen to your body. If it’s telling you that something’s wrong you need to go get it checked. It could save your life.”