Pancreatic cancer is among the worst killers in modern medicine, for numerous different reasons.
The incredibly low prognosis for those eventually diagnosed with pancreatic cancer largely relates to the fact that identifying this cancer can be an incredible challenge – it is largely a silent killer until the later stages of the disease, at which point it becomes incredibly difficult to cure.
There are, however, warning signs that you can and should look out for, especially if you have anything in your medical or family history that could mean you are at larger risk for the disease.
Any one of these warning signs, or a combination of these signs, could indicate that you need to see your doctor for a thorough checkup.
Pancreatic cancer can lead to jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, in two ways. First, it can lead to an excess of bilirubin in the bloodstream, and second, it can lead to tumors that block the bile ducts of the liver.
Jaundice should be checked out whenever it appears, as it can be an indicator of many different types of problems concerning the liver.
2. Abdominal Pain
One of the first symptoms noticed by those with pancreatic cancer is a pain in the abdomen. In fact, about 90 percent of individuals experience this symptom as tumors develop.
The pancreas is located in the upper part of the abdomen and toward the middle. If you experience pain in this region, or in the back around the same area, be sure to see a doctor right away.
3. Rapid Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss is one of the first noticeable symptoms of many different types of cancer.
If you or someone that you know has begun to lose weight without any significant changes to your diet or exercise plan, then it is crucial to see a doctor right away to determine what the cause of the weight loss may be. Remember that loss of appetite can also be a symptom, and that loss of appetite and weight loss can go hand in hand.
Gas and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as associated feelings of bloating or stomach discomfort, can be associated with any of a number of different issues.
That makes it difficult to tell when an issue such as bloating may be serious. While it probably should not be treated as a warning sign of something serious all on its own, it should be seen as serious if combined with other serious symptoms.
5. Stool Discoloring
It may be a bit of a sensitive topic, but it’s important to seek medical help if you notice any significant changes in the color of your stools. This is especially true if you have stools that are a pale, chalky, or clay color, as this can indicate bile duct blockage.
Problems related to the pancreas and the bile ducts can lead to a number of skin issues, including patchiness, itchiness, and flaking. Though these skin issues can’t be used alone to diagnose a severe problem such as pancreatic cancer, they can be a serious symptom when combined with other issues, such as jaundice.
The sudden development of diabetes with all its associated symptoms can also be an indicator of pancreatic cancer. If you are experiencing the symptoms of diabetes or have been shown to have diabetes on a blood test, but have other symptoms as well, speak with your doctor to determine whether further testing might be needed.