Pancreatic Cancer: Signs and Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Today we will get serious. I've heard that more than half of women don't know anything about this type of cancer and it it one with the highest mortality rate.

If we are not mistaken, the one question throbbing in your mind right now is, what are the signs of pancreatic cancer? Most times, pancreatic cancer goes undetected. However, it comes to notice only when it has advanced into a complex condition, to a point when the treatment of the disease seems difficult. It’s evident that in most cases, pancreatic cancer can’t be detected during its initial stages. However, it helps to know the symptoms to ensure taking adequate steps for treating the disease as early as possible.

You might know that slightly above 95% of pancreatic cancer cases belongs to the exocrine type. Therefore, first, we’ll describe the symptoms of this particular cancer type. Next, we will also talk about the symptoms of rarer forms of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Once you get to know what are the signs of pancreatic cancer, you can gain much more confidence. You’ll be able to figure out the signs by yourself even when the cancer isn’t detectable. As a result, there is a fair chance that you can eradicate the cancerous cells from your body and lead a fulfilling and healthy life.

As mentioned earlier, pancreatic cancer remains silent during its initial stages. And as it grows, it can continue to remain painless. Interestingly, its symptoms start showing when pancreatic cancer has started growing outside of the pancreas. The symptoms generally show up because of the location of the tumor. Here are the basic symptoms and the early signs of pancreatic cancer:

  • Jaundice: You must know that pancreatic cancer blocks the duct that releases bile inside the intestine, also known as the common bile duct. This condition will turn your skin and eyes yellowish. The disease is known as jaundice. Such a blockage can cause dark urine, light-colored stools, and itching.
  • Abdominal pain: Pancreatic cancer might result in a dull ache around the upper abdomen all the way to the back. The pain is mostly recurring. 
  • Bloating: Often, people affected by pancreatic cancer experience early fullness while eating. The condition can even lead to an uncomfortable swelling of the abdomen.

Other common symptoms of pancreatic cancer are nausea and vomiting. Generally, cancer symptoms in the pancreas, during its earliest phase, start appearing on the head of the pancreas. Gradually, the symptoms start spreading to its body and tail. However, it’s important to understand that having all the symptoms mentioned above doesn’t necessarily mean that you have developed pancreatic cancer.

Whole-Body Symptoms Pancreatic Cancer

As pancreatic cancer grows and continues spreading, it starts affecting the whole body. Here are the common whole-body symptoms of the disease:

  • Weight loss
  • Malaise
  • Appetite loss
  • Elevated blood sugars

Often, some people suffering from pancreatic cancer develop diabetes. This mainly happens because the cancerous cells impair the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin. Nevertheless, most people with diabetes conditions don’t have pancreatic cancer. 

Rare Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Out of all the pancreas tumors, 5% of them are Islet cell tumors. They are also known as neuroendocrine tumors. They are born from the special cells inside the pancreas that are responsible for generating hormones.

Similar to pancreatic adenocarcinoma, islet cell tumors might cause pain in your abdominal area, along with other symptoms like weight loss, vomiting, and nausea. The islet cell tumor also causes the following symptoms:

  • Excess Insulin or Insulinomas: Such a condition is accompanied by anxiety, sweating, lightheadedness, and fainting due to lower blood sugar levels.
  • Excess Glucagon or Glucagonomas: Symptoms like excessive thirst diarrhoea, excessive thirst, excessive urination, and weight loss are more common under such conditions. 
  • Excess Gastrin or Gastrinomas: When such conditions arise, symptoms like abdominal pain, and stomach ulcers can come into existence. These ulcers might even bleed, reflux, and lead to overall weight loss.
  • Excess Somatostatin or Somatostatinomas: Excess somatostatin leads to symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, as well as fatty stools with a foul smell.
  • VIPoma: Excessive vasoactive intestinal peptide can arouse conditions like watery diarrhoea, facial flushing, and abdominal cramping.

Sneaky Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer 

The least portion of people suffering from pancreatic cancer can detect early symptoms of the disease. As a result, an earlier diagnosis is possible in those cases. However, in spite of modern advancements in medical science, researchers are unable to figure out any predictable pattern that can help professionals detect the disease in its earliest form.

However, if you see symptoms such as yellowing of skin or eyes, loss of appetite, or unintended weight loss or light-colored stool, you shouldn’t waste any more time and consider visiting a doctor. It’s always advisable to assess the problems before it leads to a severe health crisis.

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