The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are almost imperceptible until the disease is at an advanced stage. Here are the ones you should know. If you notice any of these warning signs, see your doctor.
The most obvious symptom of pancreatic cancer is the yellowish tinge of the skin
“Jaundice is one of the most obvious signs of pancreatic cancer,” warns Christopher DiMaio, MD, a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Often, patients are doing very well until a loved one notices that they have yellow eyes. They then go to the doctor and find out they have advanced pancreatic cancer. ” Cancers that start near the head of the pancreas can block the bile ducts, preventing the bile from reaching the intestine, where it helps eliminate fat before it is passed from the body in the stool. Bile builds up and causes jaundice, which turns your skin and eyes yellow. It can also be itchy, according to the American Cancer Society.
Abdominal pain and back pain could be a symptom of pancreatic cancer
Place the tip of your finger at the top of your abdomen, just below the breastbone. Then imagine that your finger is pointing through your body and into your spinal cord. This is a place where patients with this type of cancer often say they experience pain, says Dr. DiMaio. “This sensation is difficult to describe, but you should see your doctor promptly if you experience pain that is a little dull, deep, in this area, or that radiates to the periphery of your abdomen and down to your back.”
Cancers that start in the body or the tail of the pancreas can put pressure on surrounding organs, causing pain. Cancer that spreads to the nerves around the pancreas can cause back pain.
Dark urine and oily stools are symptoms of pancreatic cancer
Urine that begins to darken (brown or rusty in color) may indicate pancreatic cancer. As bilirubin, a substance made by the liver and part of bile, builds up in the blood, the urine darkens. A stool that is clayish in color and greasy in texture can also be a sign of a blockage in the bile duct, explains Dr. DiMaio.
Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer: nausea and vomiting
Cancer putting pressure on the lower end of your stomach can cause a partial blockage that prevents food from passing through, causing nausea and vomiting – the pain may become more severe after a meal.
Your pancreatitis could be a sign of pancreatic cancer
“Unexplained or chronic pancreatitis can cause small tumors in the pancreas,” says Dr. DiMaio. Pancreatitis is usually caused by gallstones, new medication, or alcohol abuse, but if you don’t have any of these and get pancreatitis, it could be something more serious, he warns.
Poor dental hygiene could hide something more serious
If your mouth has bad breath, inflamed gums, and bad teeth in your mouth, it could reflect something more serious than poor dental hygiene. “Patients with pancreatic cancer are often prone to gum infections, decay, and poor dental health in general,” according to researchers at Langone Medical Center, University of New York. York, who compared bacteria in the mouth of patients with pancreatic cancer and people who did not. They found that people who had bacteria in their mouths linked to dental diseases such as periodontitis (inflammation of the gums) were 59% more likely to get pancreatic cancer than those who did not.
Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of pancreatic cancer
Type 2 diabetes doesn’t condemn you to pancreatic cancer, but it increases your risk. A Mayo Clinic study found that 40% of patients with pancreatic cancer were diagnosed with diabetes in the months before their cancer screening. Because the pancreas produces insulin, the early stages of the tumor can affect its ability to produce this hormone and thus cause type 2 diabetes, notes Dr. DiMaio.
Weight loss for no reason could be a symptom of pancreatic cancer
Do you suddenly have little or no appetite, or lose weight without changing your diet? See your doctor; It’s a fairly common sign of pancreatic cancer, says Dr. DiMaio.
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