The pancreas is a vital organ, located in the abdomen behind the stomach which serves many essential functions for our bodies including the production of hormones that regulate glucose levels and enzymes to aid in digestion. Pancreatic Cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer with an extremely low survival rate, making early detection and awareness of symptoms incredibly important.
Let’s take a look at the key symptoms and warning signs associated with Pancreatic Cancer:
1. Yellowish Skin & Eyes: A condition known as jaundice is often an early sign of Pancreatic cancer. Caused by high bilirubin levels in the body due to blockage of bile ducts near or within the pancreas, this obstruction can cause the skin and whites of the eyes to become yellowish.
This is often one of the earliest signs of Pancreatic Cancer as tumors block bile ducts and lead to build-up in the liver and other organs.
2. Abdominal Pain: Pancreatic Cancer may cause persistent and worsening abdominal pain, usually occurring on the upper left side or middle of the abdomen. The pain may radiate to the back, shoulders, chest, or other parts of the body.
3. Dark Urine & Light Stool: If blood is present within bile ducts due to a tumor in or near the pancreas, it can lead to dark urine as well as pale-colored stool which does not break down normally during digestion.
4. Fatigue & Weakness: Fatigue and weakness are two common general symptoms associated with Pancreatic Cancer. This can be due to low red blood cell counts as a result of tumor tissue blocking normal production in the pancreas.
5. Nausea and Vomiting: The presence of a tumor on or near the pancreas may interfere with normal digestive processes and cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or bloating after eating.
6. Unintended Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss is another common symptom of Pancreatic Cancer which is often brought on by a poor appetite or difficulty digesting food properly.
7. Bloating & Indigestion: Many individuals experience a feeling of fullness even after only eating small amounts along with abdominal discomfort and indigestion as early signs of Pancreatic Cancer.
8. Blood Clotting Abnormalities: Pancreatic tumors may cause a reduction in the production of substances such as platelets and clotting factors which can lead to an increased risk of bleeding and bruising easily.
9. Diarrhea & Constipation: Blockage or obstruction of the pancreas due to tumor growth may interfere with digestion leading to changes in bowel movements including frequent diarrhea, constipation, or both. Many individuals experience digestive issues as early signs of Pancreatic Cancer due to an inability to digest food properly.
10. Itching: Jaundice caused by high bilirubin levels is often associated with severe itching, usually starting on the hands and feet before spreading over other parts of the body.
11. Loss Of Appetite & Unpleasant Taste In Mouth: Pancreatic Cancer can cause a loss of appetite and cravings for foods with strong flavors, as well as an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
12. Abdominal Swelling: Tumor growth near or on the pancreas can lead to abdominal swelling due to fluid buildup in the abdomen known as ascites. This is usually accompanied by pain and discomfort around the stomach area.
13. Back Pain & Difficulty Breathing: Pancreatic tumors that grow very large may press against other organs in the abdomen and cause mild to severe back pain. They can also block the flow of air going into and out of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
14. Abnormal Blood Sugar Levels: Pancreatic Cancer may interfere with normal production of insulin and glucagon, leading to abnormally high or low levels of blood sugar which can cause confusion, dizziness, sweating, and hunger.
15. Enlarged Liver & Spleen: As Pancreatic Cancer progresses, tumors may spread to other organs in the abdomen and cause them to become enlarged. This can lead to an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, pain, and difficulty breathing.
Pancreatic Cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer with only a 10% survival rate when caught late. Early detection, however, can greatly increase chances for recovery so it’s important to familiarize yourself with these symptoms and early warning signs and seek medical advice as soon as possible if you experience any of them. Early intervention can make all the difference when it comes to treating Pancreatic Cancer and improving one’s quality of life.
Despite its reputation, there is hope for those diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. With the help of improved screening methods, treatments, and therapies, individuals may have a better chance of beating this disease with early detection and swift treatment. Taking proactive measures to identify potential signs of Pancreatic Cancer can be an important first step on the way toward recovery.