What Are the Early Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?

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Pancreatic cancer is often called a “silent” disease because it typically does not cause symptoms in its early stages. This makes early detection challenging, and by the time symptoms are noticeable, the disease is often advanced. Understanding the early signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer is crucial for timely diagnosis and treatment. Consulting a top oncologist in Hyderabad can aid in the early detection and effective management of this condition.

  1. Jaundice

Jaundice is one of the most common early symptoms of pancreatic cancer. It causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow due to the buildup of bilirubin, a substance produced by the liver. This occurs when a tumour blocks the bile duct, preventing bile from reaching the intestines.

Key Points:

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools
  • Itchy skin

2. Abdominal and Back Pain

Pain in the abdomen or back is another early symptom of pancreatic cancer. This pain can be caused by a tumour pressing against or invading nerves or other organs near the pancreas.

Key Points:

  • Persistent or recurring pain in the upper abdomen
  • Pain that radiates to the back
  • Pain that worsens after eating or lying down

3. Unexplained Weight Loss

Sudden and unexplained weight loss is often a sign of cancer, including pancreatic cancer. This can result from the body’s inability to properly digest nutrients due to the tumour affecting digestive enzyme production.

Key Points:

  • Significant weight loss without trying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling full quickly

4. Nausea and Vomiting

As the tumour grows, it can press on the stomach, causing partial blockage. This can lead to nausea and vomiting, especially after meals.

Key Points:

  • Persistent nausea
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Vomiting undigested food

5. Digestive Problems

Pancreatic cancer can cause various digestive issues due to the pancreas’s role in producing enzymes that help digestion. Tumours can interfere with this process, leading to several gastrointestinal symptoms.

Key Points:

  • Diarrhea or oily stools
  • Indigestion
  • Bloating

6. Changes in Stool

Changes in stool consistency and colour can be early signs of pancreatic cancer. The lack of digestive enzymes can lead to fatty stools that are pale, greasy, and foul-smelling.

Key Points:

  • Pale or clay-coloured stools
  • Greasy or oily stools
  • Foul-smelling stools

7. New-Onset Diabetes

The pancreas plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels. Tumours in the pancreas can affect insulin production, leading to the sudden development of diabetes, especially in individuals without a family history of the disease.

Key Points:

  • Sudden onset of diabetes
  • Difficulty controlling blood sugar levels
  • Increased thirst and urination

8. Fatigue and Weakness

Feeling unusually tired or weak can be an early sign of pancreatic cancer. This fatigue can be due to the body’s increased energy demands to fight cancer or malnutrition.

Key Points:

  • Persistent fatigue
  • General weakness
  • Feeling tired despite adequate rest

9. Blood Clots

Pancreatic cancer can increase the risk of developing blood clots. These clots can form in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and sometimes travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.

Key Points:

  • Swelling, redness, or pain in the legs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

10. Enlargement of the Gallbladder

A blocked bile duct can cause the gallbladder to become enlarged, which can sometimes be detected during a physical exam or imaging tests.

Key Points:

  • Enlarged gallbladder
  • Upper abdominal tenderness

Conclusion

Understanding the early signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer can lead to timely diagnosis and treatment, improving the chances of a better outcome. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult a top oncologist in Hyderabad to receive expert care and guidance. Early intervention is key in managing pancreatic cancer effectively.

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Sudeep