19 seasons. 1,109 regular-season games. 35 playoff games. Multiple All-Star Games. This is the impressive resume of Tony Brown, a veteran referee for the National Basketball Association (NBA). Unfortunately, Brown was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As a result, he will no longer be able to participate in the rest of the 2020-21 basketball season, which will end in July 2021. According to USA Today, Brown is receiving treatment for his pancreatic cancer.
The NBA announced Tony Brown’s diagnosis in a press release on May 10, 2021. Additionally, the NBA released a statement via Twitter to share the news. Outside of well-wishes from the NBA as a whole, specific players also stepped forward to extend their thoughts. For example, Lebron James tweeted: “Prayers sent to Tony and his family during these times!! #CancerGoToHell”
As the name suggests, pancreatic cancer forms in the pancreas, an organ which sits behind the lower stomach. Normally, the pancreas releases enzymes that aid in digestion and hormones that aid in blood sugar management. However, these processes are interrupted when pancreatic cancer forms. There are two main forms of pancreatic cancer: pancreatic adenocarcinoma (the most common form) and Islet cell tumors, a rare form which occurs in hormone-producing cells. Altogether, pancreatic cancer is the 11th most commonly diagnosed cancer within the United States. Risk factors include obesity, diabetes, having Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, smoking, and a family history of cancer. Most patients are 45 or older. Additionally, males are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than females.
Unfortunately, in many cases, pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect – and thus to treat – in early stages. In part, this is because many symptoms do not appear until the cancer has progressed. When symptoms do appear, they include:
- Unintended weight loss
- Abdominal pain which radiates to the back
- Appetite loss
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Pancreatitis (pancreatic inflammation)
- Bloating or a sense of fullness
- Dark urine and light stools
- Blood clots
- Bowel obstructions
- Newly onset diabetes
Learn more about pancreatic cancer.