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Pancreatic cancer 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths by 2020

Updated: Monday, May 19 2014, 08:35 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Alexis Christoforous) -- 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.

He said, "It was just a slap in the face. It was so far out in left field that when I heard pancreatic cancer I was like what is that?"

8 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.

Lynn Matrisian of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, said, "There are a couple of reasons why this is changing.  One is the changes in the population.  There will be more people 65 years and older."

Age is one factor.  Diabetes, obesity and smoking also play a role.  So does lack of early detection and treatment options.

Matrisian continued, "The fact that it's diagnosed late, that it metastasizes very early and it's very difficult to treat, and those are the kinds of challenges that we face."

Weinstein is still receiving treatment but is cancer free saying, "I work in my garden. Spending time with my family and friends and it's a great thing to be alive."

Numbers also show  liver cancer will become the third leading cause of cancer deaths by 2030.

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