Signs of Pancreatic Cancer: What to Look For?

Like many other forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer is often quite elusive in its early stages and as such, it is hard to get an early-stage diagnosis for it. That does not mean, however, that it is untreatable or that signs will not present themselves eventually.

There are many signs of pancreatic cancer and when paid attention to and reported to your doctor, screening can be conducted and in the event of a cancer diagnosis, treatment can begin. With that being said, what should you look out for to see if there is a possibility of pancreatic cancer?

Symptoms

  • Dark urine
  • Nausea and vomiting/loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diabetes or worsening of diabetes that has already been diagnosed
  • Abdominal pain that radiates to the back

These symptoms oftentimes indicate that pancreatic cancer has entered a later stage, but that does not mean that it isn’t treatable. It also does not mean that it is necessarily pancreatic cancer, but either way, if you are experiencing any of those symptoms then you should consult with your doctor as they could indicate that there is another issue that needs to be addressed.

There are a few more symptoms that are more extreme than can indicate that pancreatic cancer is in its later stages.

Jaundice

Jaundice is easily noticeable because it produces yellowed eyes and skin. It is caused because pancreatic cancer often sits near the bile duct which secretes bilirubin, a yellow substance produced by the liver, and it presses against the duct causing jaundice.

The presence of jaundice can sometimes also indicate that it has metastasized to the liver.

Blood Clots

In some cases, blood clots will form due to pancreatic cancer. It will typically appear in the legs and will be noticeable due to swelling and redness. It is important to monitor because if it makes it the lungs it becomes a pulmonary embolism which can be quite dangerous.

Worsening of Symptoms

If any of the typical symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and dark urine among others get worse, that could point to the pancreatic cancer is more advanced. If that is the case, share that information with your doctor as soon as possible and see how they think that you should proceed going forward.

Sometimes, the worsening of symptoms can also imply that metastasis (spreading) has occurred and if so, additional tests and screening is often performed to see where it has gone. 

Treatment

After getting screened for pancreatic cancer which can be done via imaging such as MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, and biopsies, a treatment plan will be formed by your doctor if they discover that it is in fact pancreatic cancer.

In many cases, a combination of treatments is done and will usually include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The first course of action is often times surgery to remove the cancer when possible, but if it is not possible to do so then the focus will be shifted to slowing down the spreading of the cancer or stunting its growth.

Treatment is possible at all stages but is best done and most effective in early stages. 

Relax

Although it may be difficult, if you are worried that you are showing symptoms of pancreatic cancer and are scared of what could come next you should simply relax. Panicking about your health before a proper diagnosis and treatment will not help the cause and will only keep you up at night.

There is nothing more important than your health, but try to avoid beating yourself up over it and stressing too much before hearing from medical professionals.

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