Signs And Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer

Signs And Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer

Signs And Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer depend on the stage of cancer. However, since misdiagnosis can be lethal, knowing the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer is important.

Although pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal types of cancer, diagnosing it at an early stage may change the whole course of the disease.

What is pancreatic cancer?

The pancreas is an organ in your abdomen that is located behind the bottom portion of your stomach.

Pancreatic cancer starts in the tissues of the pancreas. Your pancreas generates hormones that help you control your blood sugar as well as enzymes that help with digestion.

The pancreas can develop both malignant and non-cancerous tumors, among other growths.

The cells that line the ducts that expel digestive enzymes from the pancreas are where the most prevalent kind of pancreatic cancer first develops (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma).

Rarely is pancreatic cancer found in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable. This is due to the fact that symptoms frequently don’t appear until the disease has progressed to other organs.

Depending on how far advanced the illness is, many treatments are available for pancreatic cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, or a combination of these are all possible options.

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Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic cancer:

The pancreas is an organ that has both endocrine and exocrine functions. It is responsible for the formation and release of insulin and glucagon.

It also helps in digestion by producing enzymes that are released directly into the stomach and upper part of the intestines.

Loss of endocrine function can lead to diabetes, also called Diabetes 3C. Loss of exocrine function can lead to malabsorption and indigestion. Hence, it may be associated with diarrhea, greasy stools, and marked weight loss.

The following are some of the important signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer:

  • Abdominal pain that radiates towards your back:

An intermittent dull discomfort in the middle or upper back, as well as the upper abdominal (belly), is a typical sign of pancreatic cancer.

Because it might put pressure on the spine, this is presumably brought on by a tumor that has developed in the body or tail of the pancreas.

Some individuals report discomfort that begins in the center of the belly and spreads to the back. Lying down might make the pain worse while bending forward can frequently make it go away.

It is important to talk to your doctor about any new pain-related symptoms as pancreatic cancer discomfort might vary from person to person.

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  • Unintentional weight loss

Up to 85% of patients with pancreatic cancer (PC) have weight loss when they are diagnosed, making it a very common symptom.

Preoperative weight loss is present in about 50% of patients with early-stage and locally progressed illnesses, and it occurs in 80% of patients following diagnosis.

There are no recognized medical therapies for pancreatic cancer-associated weight loss (PAWL), and there is no clear advantage to using orexigenic drugs to boost appetite.

Therefore, one of the most upsetting and unavoidable symptoms of pancreatic cancer is increasing weight loss. [Ref]

This unintentional weight loss is quite common in pancreatic cancer patients and is associated with poor therapeutic tolerance, worse quality of life, and increased mortality.

Anorexia, malabsorption, and/or cachexia are possible causes of weight loss in pancreatic cancer patients.

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  • Jaundice

Bilirubin, a substance found in the bile that the liver produces, accumulates and results in jaundice. It can potentially be a sign of pancreatic cancer.

This can happen when a tumor obstructs the bile duct that connects the pancreas to the liver.

In addition to causing a yellowing of the skin and eyes, high blood bilirubin levels can also result in itchy skin, dark urine, and pale or clay-colored feces. This jaundice is typically painless.

While many pancreatic cancer symptoms are first mistaken for other conditions (such as gastrointestinal problems or stress), jaundice-related symptoms are typically too severe to ignore.

    • Itchy skin
    • Yellowing of skin
    • Dark urine
    • Pale appearance
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  • Fatigue

The feeling of extreme tiredness is called fatigue. Simply feeling weary is not the same as being fatigued. It could be tiring and exhausting.

Fatigue is a common side effect of pancreatic cancer. During therapy, it may get worse, and it may persist for a few months following treatment.

You may feel exhausted all the time, most of the time, or you may feel really exhausted all of a sudden for no apparent cause.

You can have fatigue, trouble focusing, or trouble falling asleep. It could be challenging to engage in your favorite activities or daily activities like working and shopping. You may feel depressed and find it difficult to deal with fatigue.

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  • Blood clots

Blood clots and pancreatic cancer may go hand in hand. They may develop in minor veins anywhere on the body or in deep veins, such as those in the legs. Occasionally, the clots will vanish and then reappear elsewhere in the body.

If you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor right away. The region surrounding the clot may experience discomfort, redness, and swelling. The area may also feel warm to the touch.

  • Difficulties in digestion

An obstruction in the digestive tract brought on by pressure from a pancreatic cyst or tumor on the stomach or small intestine can result in digestive problems such as indigestion, nausea, weight loss, a low appetite, and diarrhea.

When a tumor enlarges, it may wrap around the stomach’s extreme end and partially obstruct the passageway. This may result in nausea, vomiting, and discomfort that may get worse after food.

When nutrients in meals are not effectively digested, diarrhea occurs. The stool may become loose, watery, fatty, and pungent when this happens.

Fat-rich meals are digested by pancreatic enzymes. Inadequate pancreatic secretions in the intestines can cause poor absorption and diarrhea if a tumor restricts the pancreatic duct because the undigested food moves swiftly through the digestive system.

Stool may seem bulky, oily, and particularly pale in this situation because of the elevated fat content, and appear to be fatty.

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  • Diabetes Type 3C

Some individuals with pancreatic cancer are also discovered to have recently developed diabetes. Some people have had diabetes for the past 12 months.

Sudden, weight-gain-unrelated to the development of diabetes or late-onset diabetes with no apparent reason may both be brought on by pancreatic cancer.

Blood sugar levels may increase if the cells that produce insulin are destroyed by pancreatic cancer.

A patient with a new and suspected diabetes diagnosis should be examined to rule out pancreatic cancer, even though cancer is most likely not the cause.

  • Changes in the bowel

Steatorrhoea is a symptom that you could have if your pancreatic duct becomes blocked.

This denotes greasy stools. You can have frequent, big, pale-colored, foul-smelling bowel movements that are challenging to flush away, as discussed above.

These gastrointestinal irregularities may indicate that you are not effectively digesting your diet.

Note: weight loss can result from this.

  • Itchy skin

This can be due to jaundice as jaundice has the ability to cause itchiness on the skin.

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What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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