Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment, and Support

Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis Treatment and Support
This page was originally published November 11, 2022 and updated March 31, 2024.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Every year, more than 66,000 people are diagnosed with the disease. Pancreatic cancer is more common in men than women, and the risk of developing the disease increases with age. African Americans have a higher incidence of pancreatic cancer than any other ethnic group. This blog post includes an overview of pancreatic cancer symptoms, treatment, and no-cost national financial support programs that can help today. ❤️

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer often do not appear until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. When earlier symptoms do occur, they may include pain in the abdomen or back, weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), and loss of appetite. Unexplained weight loss may occur slowly over time or suddenly in a short period of time. It is important to note that any significant weight loss should be evaluated by a doctor. If jaundice is present, it may be accompanied by pale stools and dark urine. Additional symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include abdominal or back pain, itching skin, nausea and vomiting, appetite changes and digestive issues like indigestion and constipation. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor right away.

Tumor markers, such as CA 19-9, are proteins that can be detected in the blood of individuals with pancreatic cancer. Elevated levels of tumor markers may indicate a higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer. However, not all people with high tumor marker levels will develop pancreatic cancer and false positives can occur. Your doctor is your best resource for questions about CA 19-9 and other tumor marker tests.

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating pancreatic cancer, and the best treatment plan for each patient will depend on the stage and severity of the disease. Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are a variety of treatment options for pancreatic cancer, depending on the stage of the cancer and your overall goals. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these therapies. Early stage pancreatic cancers may be treated with surgery alone or surgery followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. More advanced cancers may require chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well as surgery. Patients with pancreatic cancer should discuss their treatment options with their doctor and work together to develop a treatment plan that fits their individual needs.

Financial Support for Pancreatic Cancer

When you are diagnosed with cancer, one of the many things you have to worry about is how you will pay for treatment. The cost of cancer treatment can be prohibitive, and many people struggle to afford the care they need. Some common expenses associated with cancer treatment include:

  • Doctor’s visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Prescription drugs
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery

Whether care-related costs or covering household or other expenses while in treatment, financial support programs can help alleviate the stress that accompanies a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Please see the programs below for help today.

❤️ Visit our national directory of free financial assistance programs for pancreatic cancer patients in the USA.

Local Help

Many people find themselves struggling to pay for their treatment, and it is common that health insurance plans do not cover all of the costs. This can be a huge burden for patients and their families. If you are facing a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, it is important to talk to your care team about your financial options. There may be local programs available that can help you pay for treatment, or you may be able to receive financial assistance from nearby charitable organizations. You should also explore all of your health insurance options and see if there are any plans that will cover most or all of your treatment costs. The financial services department at your treating hospital can be of help in this regard.

Six National Pancreatic Cancer Support Programs

There are a number of national financial support programs available for pancreatic cancer patients. These programs help cancer patients and families throughout the USA and there is never a charge to use their services. From prescription assistance to grants and care packages, assistance is available today. For more national pancreatic cancer support programs, visit our online directory. ❤️

1. The Assistance Fund for Pancreatic Cancer

(833) 570-3049

The Assistance Fund is a national nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to pancreatic cancer patients in the USA who have uncovered care-related expenses and meet income guidelines. Programs pay for copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket health-related expenses. To apply, please visit this link or call the phone number above for assistance.

2. CancerCare Pancreatic Cancer Copay Fund

Financial assistance for uncovered out-of-pocket copay, premium, and deductible expenses for pancreatic cancer patients in the USA who are in active treatment and meet income requirements. Fund pays up to $4,500 initially with a lifetime cap of $10,000. To apply, please visit this link for assistance.

3. PAN Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Fund

The PAN Foundation is a national nonprofit that provides copay, deductible, and premium financial assistance for Medicare-insured pancreatic cancer patients in the USA who are in active treatment and income that falls at or below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Fund pays up to $11,300 per year. To apply, please visit this link.

4. Purple Pansies Grant

National nonprofit that provides emergency grants for assistance with medical bills, medical procedures and medications for pancreatic cancer patients throughout the USA. Eligibility is based on financial need and available funding. To apply, please complete the online application here

5. Project Purple Grant

(203) 714-6052

National financial grant program for pancreatic cancer patients in the USA in active treatment or experiencing post-treatment complications. Grant awards cover medical and living expenses for those with documented financial need. Patients can request help once every 12 months. To apply, please visit the website and complete the application form for assistance

6. National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation Grant

Financial grant for pancreatic cancer patients throughout the USA with demonstrated financial need to cover out-of-pocket household expenses including rent, electricity, water, propane and other utilities. Applicant must earn less than 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines to qualify. Download the application here to apply.

Get More Help

If you are struggling financially as a result of your pancreatic cancer diagnosis, be sure to explore these and other national financial support programs. There is help available, and you don’t have to face your diagnosis alone. There are many national financial support programs like the ones above to help you through your treatment and make sure you have all the resources you need. You are not alone in this fight! Please click below for the complete list of resources available to pancreatic cancer patients and families in the USA. ❤️

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