By Vanessa Steil- December 2, 2019
Have you or has a loved one had a pancreatic cancer diagnosis? It’s estimated that more than 56,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year alone, and the five-year survival rate remains in the single digits.
The Lustgarten Foundation is the world’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research and is at the forefront of the most promising breakthroughs. The foundation is committed to helping you navigate this disease and has developed a checklist that highlights immediate steps you should take after receiving a diagnosis.
Understand your disease
Thoroughly understand what stage of pancreatic cancer you have. Staging cancer is a standardized way to classify a tumor based on its size, and to determine whether it has spread and to where it has spread. Staging measures the extent of the disease and will impact the treatment.
Get genetic testing as part of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis
Inquire about having your blood or saliva tested to identify possible genetic predispositions to cancer. This testing can have implications for family members and can guide your treatment program.
According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s guidelines, all pancreatic cancer patients should undergo genetic testing for inherited genetic mutations, regardless of family history.
Get tumor testing
Tumor testing is still in the early stages of development, but if you are being treated at a major cancer center, you may want to ask about having your tumor tested for genetic mutations. In some instances, this can help identify additional therapy programs.
Seek opinions from experts on pancreatic cancer diagnosis
Get two opinions and make sure one is from a large academic institution that specializes in treating pancreatic cancer.
Know your healthcare team
Treating pancreatic cancer requires an interdisciplinary approach that includes your oncologist and other specialists who must be involved in your care. Continue to see other doctors who are involved in your overall care, such as your internist.
Contact your insurance company
Thoroughly understand your health insurance policy. Know what services are covered and what your out-of-pocket obligation will be per calendar year. Request a case manager to help you optimize your benefits and navigate the intricacies of your policy.
As overwhelming as a pancreatic cancer diagnosis can be, it is important to act quickly and put a treatment plan into place, as there are therapies available from which you can benefit.