10 Signs of Pancreatic Cancer

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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The pancreas is an organ that helps us to digest our food. It secretes various substances into the digestive system thus taking part in breaking down food and regulating various bodily functions.

While it is possible to live without a pancreas, people for whom this is necessary would be heavily reliant on medications for their survival.

As with any other part of the body, the pancreas can develop cancers. Pancreatic cancer produces only very mild symptoms at first, making it difficult to diagnose in the early stages. It is a disease that is extremely difficult to treat, and mortality rates are very high.

Pancreatic Cancer Sign #1: Distended Belly

We will often feel bloated after a big meal. Sometimes it can be almost impossible to say no to another helping, no matter how full we may be. While this is perfectly normal, remaining in a state of bloating for a while after you have eaten is definitely not natural. If you are bloated and the feeling does not go away, you should arrange to speak with a doctor.

Pancreatic cancer can cause the pancreas to swell in size which leads to overall, noticeable enlargement of the abdomen. This symptom is often among the first noticed, although it tends to be overlooked.


Pancreatic Cancer Sign #2: Jaundice

Take a look at a person’s skin and you can often get a rough gauge of their overall health. Yellow skin and eyes, also known as jaundice, is a sign that you might have pancreatic cancer, as well as some other conditions.

The yellowness is caused by the presence of a substance called bilirubin. Bilirubin is yellow itself and is usually removed from the body by bile. Pancreatic cancer can block the bile duct, preventing the breakdown of bilirubin, hence resulting in a yellow appearance.

Pancreatic Cancer Sign #3: Back Pain

Back pain often seems to be just part of life to many people. Even those that don’t have anything specifically wrong can still experience pains, especially with age. If pain is persistent, though, then it may be a good idea to go and get it checked out.

Pain that occurs in another area of the body but that is coming from an organ is called referred pain. This is another symptom that is often overlooked and passed off as something harmless. Remember though, diagnosing cancer as early as possible will go a long way helping you recover in the long term.


Pancreatic Cancer Sign #4: Rapid Weight Loss

If you are overweight, it is a good idea to try and lose some pounds. Not only will this help make you look better, but it will also improve your overall health. However, it is important to lose weight safely and slowly for best results that do not interfere with your health. Unintentional, rapid loss of weight could be a sign that you are very ill.

If you have recently lost a lot of weight very quickly and you don’t know why, you should arrange to speak with a doctor as soon as possible. Many different types of cancer cause sudden dropping of weight, and pancreatic cancer is no exception.

Pancreatic Cancer Sign #5: Generally Feeling Unwell

When we speak with a doctor, they will often look for specific symptoms that can help reveal the problem. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to pinpoint a specific symptom, although this in itself can also be specific enough to help the doctor reach an initial diagnosis.

People with pancreatic cancer will often complain that they just feel unwell in general. Although this is unlikely to encourage people to go to a doctor, it can be enough to help get an early diagnosis and, therefore, early treatment. If you are not sure, you should go to see the doctor anyway.


Pancreatic Cancer Sign #6: Itching

Itching can be very irritating, even unbearable at times. It can also be very useful because it raises your alertness. Often, though, it is a reaction to something rather than a warning signal. If you feel itchy, it may be due to contact with an irritating substance, a bug bite, or even pancreatic cancer.

If you are itching persistently for no apparent reason, you should really get it checked out. Overall itching is often caused by a build-up of bilirubin in the system, which occurs even before the skin turns yellow.

Pancreatic Cancer Sign #7: Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pains are quite common. They are sometimes caused by food that has not been handled properly, often leading to unpleasant infections. The culprit may also be rich and spicy foods that are difficult to digest.

Abdominal pain should pass before too long, and you should arrange to speak with a doctor if it doesn’t. In the case of pancreatic cancer, the swelling pancreas can be painful or be placing pressure on other organs within the abdomen. Such pains will likely persist regardless of what you eat.


Pancreatic Cancer Sign #8: Loss of Appetite

One of the most common signs of pancreatic cancer is significant loss of appetite. This is largely due to the swelling pancreas pressing against the stomach.

Such a loss of appetite can make matters worse as it contributes to weight loss and can cause nutritional problems that hinder the patient’s ability to fight the disease. If you have lost your appetite, it is important to try and keep on eating no matter how much you might not feel like it.

Pancreatic Cancer Sign #9: Dark Urine

If you notice something unusual about your urine, don’t ignore it. Your urine, and your urinatory habits overall, can tell you a great deal about your health. They can also help identify a problem that you haven’t otherwise noticed, such as pancreatic cancer.

If your urine is darker than usual, it usually means you are dehydrated. This matter is easily solved by drinking plenty of water. However, if it persists, then there may be something seriously wrong. A dark urine could also be a sign of pancreatic cancer, so you should definitely get it checked out.

Pancreatic Cancer Sign #10: Abnormal Stools

If your stools appear different than they usually do, that could be a sign of a serious illness. Of course, stools can be affected by a change in diet, but a persistent abnormality is something that should warrant further investigation. A thorough check-up could literally help save your life.

One symptom of pancreatic cancer is stools that are greasy and lighter in colour than usual. Again, this is due to the presence of bilirubin in the body. Abnormal stools are also a sign of other potentially serious problems, so this is something that should definitely make you see a doctor.


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