10 Common Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer affects the pancreas, which is behind part of your stomach. Your pancreas releases enzymes to help with digestion and hormones to regulate the metabolism of sugars. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is not usually detected until it is in the late stages, and it spreads quickly throughout your body. It is almost always fatal.
It is a rare condition, with less than 200,00 cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Usually, patients do not experience any symptoms at first. Symptoms that occur later are often attributed to other conditions, such as back pain and nausea. If time allows, patients may have their pancreas removed, and/or go through radiation and chemotherapy.
Symptom 1: Jaundice
Has your skin tone changed? What about the whites of your eyes? Do they have a yellow tint? Jaundice is caused when excess bilirubin (bile component) in your blood builds up.
Dark urine and pale stools are also a part of jaundice from pancreatic cancer.
Symptom 2: Dark Urine
What color is your urine? Is it a dark color? Dark urine is a sub-symptom of pancreatic cancer due to jaundice.
If bilirubin levels increase in your blood, your urine becomes brownish or orange, and darker than usual.
Symptom 3: Loss of Appetite
Do you feel like not eating? Maybe because of pain or nausea? Or do your favorite foods not taste the same?
Because you don’t feel like eating, pancreatic cancer patients tend to lose quite a bit of weight. Try exercising that is not too strenuous before eating to stimulate your appetite; stayed hydrated; and eat multiple, smaller meals during the day rather than three big meals.
Symptom 4: Abdomen/Back Pain
Pancreatic cancer is considered one of the most painful types of cancer. Tumors in or on the pancreas can put pressure on nerves. You feel pain in your abdomen that can move around to your back.
Medications help initially. Sometimes, surgically placing a pain pump helps with the pain to some degree.
Symptom 5: Weight Loss
Do you lose weight without intentionally trying? Do you feel like not eating? Do you have nausea?
These reasons lead to pancreatic cancer patients losing weight. Remember how thin Steve Jobs got?
Symptom 6: Nausea
During the later stages of pancreatic cancer, when your digestive tract becomes blocked by tumors, you become nauseated and vomit. There are treatments and medications that can help control the nausea and vomiting, but they may actually cause nausea and vomiting.
With pancreatic cancer, you feel nauseated, so you don’t eat. When you try to eat, you end up just vomiting.
Symptom 7: Fatigue
With pancreatic cancer, several organs are not working properly. Because you are unable to eat much, you have less energy and feel tired most of the time.
Also, pain and nausea can prevent you from sleeping well, or not at all. Again, medications can help, but may cause fatigue, as well.
Symptom 8: Dementia/Delusions
During the later stages of pancreatic cancer, patients may not know where they are or recognize their loved ones. This may be caused by the cancer or related to allergies of the pain and other medications they are taking.
For example, they may not realize they are in a hospital. They could talk about having to make a plane to get to a specific city. Or they may talk about things from their past, like playing a game or going to school as a child.
Symptom 9: Gallbladder or Liver Enlargement
When pancreatic cancer blocks your bile duct, the bile builds up in your gallbladder, enlarging it. Physically feeling a large bump under your ribs or imaging tests can diagnose this symptom.
Besides the gallbladder, your liver can become enlarged due to pancreatic cancer, especially when it spreads to it.
Symptom 10: Blood Clots
Initially, pancreatic cancer patients may notice a blood clot, usually in their leg. A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may include pain, swelling, redness, and heat. Seek medical attention to manage blood clots, such as blood thinners.
Fortunately, a blood clot does not necessarily mean you have cancer. Most blood clots are due to other conditions.