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Published on November 22, 2021

November Proclaimed Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Guilford County Commission seeks to draw attention to a disease with few initial symptoms.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has declared November 2021 as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer shows few symptoms early. Up to 80% of pancreatic cancers are not discovered until they have reached advanced stages where they are harder to treat. Therefore, it is important for people to be aware of signs and symptoms.  

Dr. Iruku addressing commission

Most cases occur in people 65 and older. Persistent symptoms include: 

  • Abdominal pain that radiates to the back
  • Yellowing of the eyes, jaundice
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained fatigue 

County Commissioner Justin Conrad presented the proclamation to Dr. Praveena Iruku, medical oncologist at Cone Health. Iruku told commissioners that everyone with a close relative who had pancreatic cancer should talk with their doctor about genetic testing for the disease. The relatively new screening is available through Cone Health. Cone Health has also recently added a surgeon specializing in pancreatic surgery. 

Cone Health sees about 220 new cancers of pancreatic cancer every year. While the five-year survival rate remains low, it has more than doubled since 2015 when Conrad’s father was diagnosed with the disease.