Pancreatic cancer accounts for seven percent of cancer-related deaths in the country. It forms in the pancreas, an organ that is an important part of the digestive system. The pancreas is responsible for controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and breaking down foods. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma or exocrine cancer, which develops in the cells lining the duct of the pancreas, is one of the most common types of pancreatic cancer. A pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, which forms in the organ, is comparatively rare.
While the symptoms of pancreatic cancer usually do not show until the cancer reaches an advanced stage, the disease produces certain warning signs that can help one prepare a better treatment plan. Let’s talk about a few of them:
Jaundice is an early indicator of pancreatic cancer. The condition, which makes the skin and eyes turn yellow, is caused due to the buildup of bilirubin, an excretory product of the liver, in the blood. Usually, bilirubin is removed from the body in the form of bile. However, cancerous cells that form in the pancreas prevent its removal by spreading to the bile duct, a tube that helps transport bile. This causes too much bilirubin to build up in the blood, causing the skin and eyes to turn yellow.
With the cancer cells blocking the bile duct, the bilirubin has no option but to enter the liver or gallbladder. This makes either of the organs swell up. Simple imaging tests can be used to detect the problem.
Unexplained weight loss
Like most forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer also has an effect on the patient’s weight. The cancer cells begin feeding off the energy from food, which is actually meant for the cells of the body. These cells can also change the way the body uses calories and other nutrients. Incomplete digestion is another consequence of cancer cells that leads to unexplainable weight loss.
Cancer cells have the ability to multiply. As they start growing, they take up more and more space, pushing other organs from their original location. This is what can cause pain. While the severity varies from one patient to another, every patient suffering from pancreatic cancer suffers from belly or back pain at some point.
Doctors believe that the condition of stool can say a lot about pancreatic cancer. Patients suffering from the disease often go through diarrhea and constipation. The pancreatic tumor might also prevent the release of digestive enzymes into the intestine, which eventually leads to loose and smelly stool. Dry and hard stool is also a cause for concern, as it indicates constipation.
The sudden onset of diabetes can be a huge indicator of pancreatic cancer. Recent studies have found that patients suffering from diabetes are 40 percent at risk of developing pancreatic cancer. The reasoning can be that cancer cells alter the body’s blood sugar levels. More research is, however, needed to understand the relation between diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
Submit a Question You Would Like Us To Answer