Lisa-Swaize---Pancreatic-Cancer-WalkOn Saturday, November 3, representativesfrom the Joan Karnell Cancer Center at PAH, Pennsylvania Oncology andHematology Associates, the Department of Surgery and Radiation Oncologyparticipated Purple Stride Philadelphia 2012 to help raise awareness and fundsin the fight against pancreatic cancer. Sponsored by the Pancreatic CancerAction Network® and held in Fairmount Park, the 5K walk and timed run raisedover $500,000.

Chief Ambassador of Hope, Lisa Niemi Swayze(shown speaking) joined the Philly event on honor of her late husband, PatrickSwayze, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Alsoin attendance was Lisa Niemi Swayze, chief Ambassadorof Hope of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Swayze joined the Network asits first celebrity spokesperson in honor of her late husband, Patrick Swayze,who died from pancreatic cancer in 2009 - after a nearly two-year battle withthe disease.

The Philadelphia affiliate of the PancreaticAction Network holds monthly support meetings. If you would like to volunteer,please visit If you or someoneyou know is newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the Patient and LiaisonServices (PALS) program provides comprehensive, free information and supportfor pancreatic cancer patients, their families and health professionals. Contact PALS at:  877-272-6226 or

Formany, the first time they heard about pancreatic cancer may have been when,Patrick Swayze or Apple CEO, Steve Jobs was diagnosed. But it is not as rare asyou may think. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death inthe United States.

Thepancreas is an organ that is located behind the stomach, it plays an essentialrole in converting the food we eat into energy for the body’s cells. Thepancreas actually has two main functions; the first function is to secreteenzymes to aid in the digestion of protein, fat and carbohydrates and thesecond function is to create and release insulin, a hormone responsible forlowering blood sugar and glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar.

Sadly,because of the pancreas’ hidden location in the body, pancreatic cancer isoften diagnosed late state, making in one of the deadliest forms of cancer.This year, an estimated 43,920 people will be diagnosed with pancreaticcancerin the United States and approximately 37,390 will die from the disease. 

Risk factors for developing pancreaticcancer include:

  • Familyhistory of pancreatic cancer
  • Age
  • Chronicor hereditary pancreatitis
  • Recent-onsetof diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Beingover- weight, especially in the abdomen.

TheAmerican Institute for Cancer Research estimates that being lean can prevent 19percent of the pancreatic cases that occur in the United States each year.Pancreatic cancer is easily concealed; it may cause only vague symptoms thatcould be mistaken for many different conditions within the gastrointestinaltract. Unfortunately, there are no detection tools to diagnose the disease inits early stages when it the tumor can be surgically removed, this is one ofthe main reasons pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer death.