Pancreatic cancer symptoms: signs, causes of disease and survival rate - after death of Willie Garson at 57

Pancreatic cancer can affect anyone, although it is more common among people over the age of 75

Tributes have been paid to popular Sex And The City actor Willie Carson who has died aged 57 after suffering from cancer.

While the actor’s exact cause of death has not been confirmed, reports reveal that the start had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

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Garson was best known for playing flamboyant talent agent Stanford Blatch and had recently reprised his role for the HBO Max spin-off series And Just Like That.

Michael Patrick King, executive producer of Sex And The City and And Just Like That, said Garson had been dedicated to his work even while ill.

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a form of cancer that is found anywhere in the pancreas, which is the organ that sits tucked behind the stomach in the upper abdomen.

The pancreas produces enzymes that help to digest food and makes hormones, such as insulin, to help regulate the body process glucose.

Anyone can get pancreatic cancer, although it is more common among people over the age of 75. It is not very common among people under the age of 40.

You may also be at higher risk of developing the cancer if you have certain medical conditions, such as long-term chronic pancreatitis, or there is a history of pancreatic cancer in your family.

Actor Willie Carson who has died aged 57 after suffering from cancer (Photo: Getty Images)
Actor Willie Carson who has died aged 57 after suffering from cancer (Photo: Getty Images)
Actor Willie Carson who has died aged 57 after suffering from cancer (Photo: Getty Images)

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer does not always cause noticeable symptoms, which can make it difficult to spot.

However, common symptoms can include:

  • the whites of your eyes or your skin turning yellow (jaundice). You may also have itchy skin, darker urine and paler poo than usual
  • loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
  • feeling tired or having no energy
  • a high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery

Other symptoms can affect your digestion, including:

  • feeling or being sick
  • diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo
  • pain at the top part of your tummy and your back. This may feel worse when you are eating or lying down and better when you lean forward
  • symptoms of indigestion, such as feeling bloated

When should I see a doctor?

If the whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow, you are vomiting for more than two days, or have diarrhoea for more than seven days, the NHS recommends calling 111 to arrange to speak to a nurse or doctor urgently.

It is also advised that you see a GP if you lost a noticeable amount of weight over the last six to 12 months without trying, or have other symptoms of pancreatic cancer that get worse or do not improve after two weeks.

You should also seek advice if you have a condition that causes symptoms with your digestion that are not getting better after two weeks of using your normal treatments

How can I reduce my risk of pancreatic cancer?

Making healthy lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of getting pancreatic cancer.

The NHS suggests:

  • losing weight if you are overweight
  • cutting down on consumption of red and processed meat, such as ham, bacon and salami
  • cutting down on alcohol – you should avoid drinking more than 14 units per week
  • quitting smoking

What is the survival rate for pancreatic cancer?

The survival statistics for pancreatic cancer is low compared to other cancers, mainly because it is hard to diagnose.

The five year survival for all pancreatic cancers in the UK is 7%, according to Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Many people are diagnosed late with the disease when it has already spread, meaning surgery is not possible to remove the cancer.

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