Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

The following are the signs and symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer:

  • Abdominal Pain: If the tumors on the pancreas enlarge, they can begin to push on the surrounding organs and cause mild to severe abdominal pain. The pain may get worse when you have a meal or when you make any sudden movements.
  • Back Pain: When the tumor becomes large enough, it can push on the surrounding nerves, therefore causing back pain, which may radiate to other parts of your body as well.
  • Diminished Appetite: A lot of people experience a loss of appetite and may also cause physical weight loss. You may develop an aversion to food and stop consuming food completely.
  • Jaundice: Pancreatic cancer usually metastasizes to the liver. As the tumors grow, they may block the bile duct and cause bilirubin to accumulate. This causes jaundice. This may also cause the urine to become darker as the bilirubin is spilled into the urine.
  • Pruritis: The obstruction of the bile duct and accumulation of bilirubin can cause itching in certain parts of your body. It can also make your skin very sensitive.
  • Weight Loss: Due to the loss of appetite, you can start losing weight and you may even get malnourished. The tumors may also affect your digestion, making you feel full all the time and causing you to lose your appetite.
  • Nausea: As the digestive tract gets blocked by the tumor, you may experience severe nausea and may even vomit all the food that you consume.
  • Fever: Infection in the body, due to the obstruction of the bile duct, can cause toxicity in the body and may eventually lead to fever.
  • Chills: Fevers and infections that are caused due to the obstruction of bile ducts may cause chills.
  • Diarrhea: Since the pancreas is not able to produce pancreatic enzymes any more, they affect digestion and may cause diarrhea and other bowel movement related problems.
  • Diabetes: One of the more serious complications of pancreatic cancer is that the organ is not able to produce insulin which is important for glucose metabolism. This eventually causes diabetes.
  • Abdominal Distension: As the cancer grows, the abdominal cavity grows smaller and more cramped. It can therefore cause abdominal distension.
  • Some of the other symptoms are liver disease and portal vein thrombosis. As the cancer increases, it may reach the bone and you may have bone pain as well.

Frequently asked questions
  1. Albert B. Lowenfels, Patrick Maisonneuve, Epidemiology and risk factors for pancreatic cancer, Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology, Volume 20, Issue 2, April 2006, Pages 197-209, ISSN 1521-6918, 10.1016/j.bpg.2005.10.001.
  2. Andrea Mancuso, Fabio Calabrò, Cora N. Sternberg, Current therapies and advances in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, Volume 58, Issue 3, June 2006, Pages 231-241, ISSN 1040-8428, 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2006.02.004.