PBHS senior raising cancer awareness

Brittany Wentz, a senior at Philip Barbour High School, chose “pancreatic cancer awareness” as the subject for her senior project. The project hit close to home for Brittany, as her grandmother, Barbara Workman, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2013.

Brittany’s grandmother, like most diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, was not a candidate for surgery because of the location of the tumor. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy, and so far is responding to treatment.

Brittany learned of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network from her grandmother, who received a Purple Scarf of Hope made by a volunteer of the organization. Annette Fetty Santilli is the community representative for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the Administrator for the Barbour County Health Department in Philippi. Santilli is helping Brittany with her project.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is expected to rise to the second leading cause by 2020. Pancreatic cancer is one of the nation’s deadliest cancers with a five-year survival rate of just 6 percent. An estimated 73 percent of patients will die in the first year of their diagnosis.

In 2014, an estimated 46,420 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States, and approximately 39,590 will die from the disease. The number of new pancreatic cancer cases in the U.S. has been projected to increase by 55 percent between 2010 and 2030. Pancreatic cancer is the ninth most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the 11th most diagnosed cancer in men. Risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer include family history of the disease, age, chronic or heredity pancreatitis, smoking, obesity and long-standing diabetes.

Pancreatic cancer may cause only vague symptoms that could indicate many different conditions within the abdomen or gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms may include pain (usually abdominal or back pain), weight loss, jaundice and yellowing of the skin and eyes, loss of appetite, nausea, changes in stool, and diabetes. The location of the pancreas deep in the abdominal cavity is a factor hindering early detection of pancreatic cancer. Surgical removal of the tumor is possible in approximately 15 percent of pancreatic cancer patients.

To help Brittany achieve her goal of increased pancreatic cancer awareness, Facebook users may go to the page: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – West Virginia, and “like” the page. Interested persons may also post pictures of loved ones affected by the disease. Brittany has been putting together displays at special events promoting awareness in addition to her Facebook campaign.

For more information about pancreatic cancer or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, persons may refer to www.pancan.org or the Facebook page: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – West Virginia.