Last Updated on June 23, 2020
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly diseases worldwide, and this is because it is one of the most difficult to detect. Most cases of pancreatic cancer do not have symptoms in the early stages (or are very superficial), which makes diagnosis difficult.
In cases the symptoms of pancreas problems are more visible, it is likely that the person who presents them is already at a more advanced stage of the disease, that is, when cancer has already spread to other places.
Once detected, the survival rate of pancreatic cancer is also not encouraging because it is extremely low, around 5%. However, the secret to combat this type of problem always lies in prevention and early diagnosis. What are the early warning signs of pancreatic cancer?
To help you, we’ve made a list of ten signs of pancreatic cancer that you should never ignore.
1. Yellowing of the Skin and the Whites of the Eyes – Jaundice
Jaundice causes many effects on the skin; one of the most noticeable is the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. This symptom can be synonymous with several medical problems, such as alcoholism, liver failure, and one of the warning signs of pancreas problems.
In general, the liver produces a liquid called bile, and it contains bilirubin (a yellow-brown substance) that helps break down fats and route them through the pancreas, through the common bile duct, to the small intestine.
When the bile duct is blocked (by the action of a tumor, for example), bile cannot reach the intestines, and the amount of bilirubin accumulates in various regions of the body – hence the change in skin color.
Cancers that start in the head of the pancreas are very close to the common bile duct, hence the need to be alert to pancreas health. Keep in mind that there are cancers that also develop on the body and tail of the pancreas, and they may not put pressure on the bile duct. They can even spread to other organs, such as the liver, for example.
2. Urine Is Too Dark
One of the first signs of jaundice is revealed in the urine. When the urine is too dark, it is a sign of dehydration, but it also means that the levels of bilirubin in the blood have increased.
This means that the bile may not be properly extracted, and this may be because of a tumor in the pancreas.
Take the test and start drinking more water, if that doesn’t work, that is, if your urine doesn’t get clearer, it’s a sign that it’s time to activate your health insurance. Start looking for affordable health insurance for yourself as soon as possible so that you will be well-prepared for the future.
3. Light or Oily Colored Stool
Another characteristic sign of jaundice is when your stool is oily or light in color. Bilirubin gives color to your stool, and when it doesn’t – like when your waste is gray or light in color – it is a sign that there may be a tumor or bowel movement problems.
Also, when you have painful bowel movements, and the stools are oily and float in water, it is a sign that bile and pancreatic enzymes cannot get rid of fats when they reach the intestine. It is also a cause for concern, and you should speak to your doctor immediately.
4. Very Itchy Skin
Itching of the skin is another sign of jaundice, as it demonstrates the accumulation of bilirubin in the skin. In this case, you get a lot of swelling and itching in one, or several areas of the body (the hands and feet are commonly affected areas) before the skin even turns yellow.
If you are unable to identify the reasons for your itching, such as insect bites, any hygiene product that has triggered an allergic reaction, or any other reason, do some preventive tests to find out how to help your pancreas. At least that way, you will know that it is working properly.
5. Severe Abdominal Pain That Also Affects the Back
The growth of a pancreatic tumor not only affects neighboring internal organs, such as the liver or gallbladder, but it also causes pain in the abdominal area, lower spine, and back muscles.
It is a sharp and constant pain that causes enormous discomfort (many women associate it with menstrual cramps, but it may not necessarily be the case).
These pancreas pain reasons may disappear when you lean forward, or they may get worse after eating or after lying down.
Be vigilant for this symptom because if it does not go away, you should speak to your doctor quickly.
6. Loss of Appetite
Loss of appetite is another early indicator that you may be suffering from a problem related to the pancreas, which should not be ignored. This is because, with the growth of tumors in this area, the surrounding internal organs can be easily affected.
7. Nausea and Vomiting
What are the symptoms of inflammation of the pancreas? Nausea and vomiting are some of its main symptoms. In addition to these, abdominal pain, rapid pulse, fever, discomfort when eating, loss of appetite, among other signs, are indicative of the existence of digestive problems. All of these symptoms are very useful in describing a clinical condition that is affecting the pancreas.
This happens when the tumor is obstructing the passage of food in some pancreatitis function, and, naturally, you feel inflamed, with nausea, the urge to vomit, and stomach pains that tend to be worse after eating. The stomach seems to be compressed, and you end up with a lot of pain.
8. A Sensation of Permanent Bloating
One of the signs that you should also not ignore, despite being associated with numerous health problems, is when you feel too bloated. After a meal, it is natural to feel more bloated (especially if it is a dish that you enjoy very much), but staying that way for many days is not normal.
If the swelling doesn’t go away, go to your family doctor to see what may be causing this problem. If you notice that this sensation is manifested with other signs on this list, then you will already get a more appropriate pancreatitis treatment.
9. Unexpected Weight Loss
The unexplained weight loss is related to the previous points, such as loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting, and stomach discomfort or bloating after eating a meal. There are foods that you should not eat if you have digestive problems, especially if you suspect that it affects your pancreas.
What not to eat with pancreas problems? The foods you should avoid include red meat, fried foods, desserts with added sugars, among other types of junk food because your body will not be able to digest the fats and sugars of these foods.
The body produces hormones that prevent the body from receiving nutrients from food. This will make you lose a lot of weight, even if you are following a balanced and healthy diet.
10. Development of Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease in which the body stops producing enough insulin to regulate blood sugar. Therefore, as a tumor in the pancreas area can lead to problems with insulin production, it is best to ask your doctor for additional tests to monitor this condition carefully.
Early diagnosis of diabetes in adulthood and without a family history of diabetes can be a worrying sign of the early stages of pancreatic cancer. Always be attentive and watchful of this sign.
These are the ten signs of pancreatic cancer that you should not ignore. If you see one or more of these signs, you should speak to your family doctor immediately. You can also go to a gastroenterologist or endocrinologist so that they can help with diagnosis and efficient therapy.