MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Lung cancer is currently the deadliest cancer, followed by colorectal and breast. But deaths from pancreatic and liver cancer are on the rise.
Michael Weinstein thought he was having another bout of diverticulitis when doctors found a tumor in his pancreas.
“It was so far out in left field that when I heard pancreatic cancer I was like, ‘What is that?'” he said.
Eight years later, the 65-year-old Weinstein is beating the odds. He’s part of the just 6 percent of patients who survive more than five years after diagnosis.
As deaths from many cancers drop, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network predicts pancreatic cancer will rise from the fourth to the second leading cause of cancer death by 2020.
Age is one factor. Diabetes, obesity and smoking also play a role. So does lack of early detection and treatment options.
“The fact that it’s diagnosed late, that it metastizes very early and it’s very difficult to treat, and those are the kinds of challenges that we face,” said Lynn Matrisian, of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Weinstein is still receiving treatment. But he’s currently cancer free.
“I work in my garden. Spending time with my family and friends and … It’s a great thing to be alive,” he said.
Weinstein said he considers each day a blessing.
Numbers also show that liver cancer will become the third leading cause of cancer deaths by 2030.