Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

November 12, 2012

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer in the pancreas is regarded as rare, but if you develop any signs of this cancer, contact your doctor. The symptoms may not be connected to pancreatic cancer but the indications do deserve a medical examination.

The pancreas is situated behind the stomach, liver, gallbladder, spleen and small intestine, and is in front of the spine. The pancreas is a pear shaped gland which is approximately six inches in length and consists of three sections, the wider end described as the head, the middle described as the body and the last section, the narrow end, is called the tail. During a medical examination, the pancreas cannot be felt.

Dependent on where the cancer is situated in the pancreas it can determine the symptoms experienced. Unfortunately any warning signs of cancer in the pancreas tend not to show until the cancer is in a progressive stage, which means discovering the cancer early is difficult. Some of the symptoms like weight loss and/or stomach pain can also be related to other non cancerous illnesses.

Jaundice is a painless condition which is evident by yellowing of skin and eyes, and it happens due to a higher level of bilirubin in the blood. This can happen if a tumor blocks or partially blocks the bile ducts in the liver which slows the flow of the bile and it can be common in people who are suffering with cancer in the pancreas. Pain in the abdomen, normally appearing on the upper abdomen and may move to the back and the pain increasing when lying down, or three to four hours after eating. Loss of appetite can be a sign of many conditions and illnesses ranging from a stomach virus to being a symptom of pancreatic cancer. Medical examinations are required to ensure the correct diagnosis when confronted with vague indications. Feeling nauseas and vomiting can be signs of other illnesses but can also be a symptom of pancreatic cancer. An early indication can be weight loss (without dieting) along with pain in the abdomen. Again, these symptoms can be related other types of cancer and benign conditions.

Changes in the color of stools and urine can occur. The brown color of the stool is replaced with a pale, clay color and has an unusual, strong smell and urine becomes darker in color. This can happen because the bile duct may be blocked.

Pancreatic cancer may affect the pancreas capability in producing insulin, therefore diabetes may occur but most of the time diabetes develops with no connection to pancreatic cancer.

Itchy skin on its own is often diagnosed and treated as a dermatological condition, but when accompanied with pain in the abdomen or jaundice can be a less obvious indication of cancer of the pancreas.

If you have a family history of pancreatic cancer and have specific genetic syndromes you may be at a higher risk of this type of cancer and it may be you could be offered specialized screening. Pancreatic cancer is uncommon therefore it is not necessary to screen everyone.

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