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Recognise the symptoms for World Pancreatic Cancer Day

Many of us are aware of how check ourselves for breast and prostrate cancer, but when it comes to pancreatic cancer, do you know what to look out for?

The pancreas is a large gland that’s part of the digestive system; its job it is to create digestive juices and various hormones, including insulin. When cancer occurs in this vital organ, it’s caused by an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells.

Pancreatic cancer tends to affect people in mid-life and old age, and it’s uncommon in people under the age of 40.

3D illustration of Pancreas - part of digestive system.

The pancreas 

The tricky thing about this type of cancer is that symptoms are hard to spot in the early stages, so early diagnosis is often missed.  However, there are some subtle signs to be aware of.

The earlier a cancer is picked up too, the easier it is to treat and the more likely the treatment is to be successful.

“Worldwide there are around 338,000 new cases each year; in Europe that figure is more than 104,000. In the UK, approximately 10,000 people are newly diagnosed each year,” says Ali Stunt, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action.

As today marks World Pancreatic Cancer Day, we take a look at four of the most common noticeable symptoms to look out for.

1. Pain or discomfort in the tummy

Not everyone will experience the same symptoms of pancreatic cancer, but according to Stunt, abdominal pain or discomfort is “one of the first symptoms to often present itself.”

The pain might come and go at first and feel more intense when you’re lying down or after eating. You might also find it feels better when you’re leaning forward.

Abdominal pain can be caused by all kinds of health issues, like infection, appendicitis and IBS, so it’s important not to panic if you do experience it. It is a good idea, however, to get it checked out by a doctor.

2. Jaundice

Yellowish eyes is sign of problems with liver, viral infection or other disease

Jaundice can cause discolouration to the whites of the eyes 

“The most obvious sign of jaundice is yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, ” says Stunt. “It can also cause your urine to appear darker and your skin to itch.”

It’s caused by increased amounts of bilirubin in the blood, which can occur when if cancer in the head of the pancreas blocks the bile duct.

3. Unexplained weight loss

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept.

Look for changes to weight 

“This is often one of the first problems patients tell their doctors about,” notes Stunt.

If you haven’t made changes to your diet or fitness routine, it’s also wise to get any unexplained weight loss checked out by a doctor.

Sudden, noticeable weight loss can happen after a stressful event, although it can also be a sign of a serious illness too.

4. Feeling sick

When the pancreas is inflamed and swollen, it can cause you to feel nauseous, and you may also find that you’re vomiting out of the blue.

“People with pancreatic cancer also sometimes experience constipation (when your stools are very firm) or diarrhoea (passing of watery stools more than three times a day),” says Stunt.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

You may be able to tell if you have lost weight without weighing yourself on scales • If clothing or jewellery feels loose or people comment on your weight loss. Unexpected weight loss can be a sign of a number of diseases, so you should see your GP to investigate why this is happening to you • It’s #PancreaticCancerAwarenessMonth and we’re sharing the signs and symptoms to look out for • -> Click the link in our bio • • #pancreaticcanceraction #pancreaticcancer #cancer #cancerawareness #awareness #charity #tip #turnitpurple #wpcd #pcam #pancreaticcancerawarenessmonth #purplelightsuk #earlydiagnosissaveslives #wpcd #worldpancreaticcancerday #demandbetter

A post shared by Pancreatic Cancer Action (@pancreatic_cancer_action) on

Other symptoms

If you have pancreatic cancer, you may also experience indigestion, loss of appetite, bloating, diarrhoea, fatigue, blood clots or deep vein thrombosis.

It’s good to bear in mind that these symptoms are common and the majority of people who will experience them will not have pancreatic cancer. There are lots of less serious health conditions that could be causing them.

However, if you’re experiencing any bodily changes that are not the norm for you, it is important to get them checked by your doctor.

Do you know the signs of pancreatic cancer? Share your experiences in the comments below

 

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Suzy53
22nd Nov 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
My husband died 2days ago with this dreadful disease. He was only diagnosed 4wks ago. Looking back he had been seeing our GP with symptoms for over a year that were not recognised. It was a urology appointment where the consultant listened to my husbands symptoms who in turn did emergency investigations leading to the news he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It was only days later when he became jaundice and evidently too late for any treatment. It is time for more information of symptoms of this disease to be broadcasted in the media as other cancers are. It should no longer be the silent disease that kills people so quickly. Myself and my family are in shock and seeing today was world pancreatic cancer day was sadly for us too little, too late. My only hope for the future that things will change and knowledge of this disease is more worldwide.
2
Thanks for voting!
So sorry to read this Suzy53 ... sending you my sincere condolences as this very raw and sad time for you and your family. 🙁
maureen
15th Nov 2018
3
Thanks for voting!
Got be be lucky to get early diagnose with this its one of the worst to detect x
Margaret Hart
14th Nov 2018
3
Thanks for voting!
Pancreatic cancer is one of the easiest to miss as it has so many symptoms, jaundice being one of the most obvious but not the most prevalent. I have had a few frights along that line but luckily each one has been proved not so.
Jeanc11
15th Nov 2018
1
Thanks for voting!
It is easy to miss Margaret and the charities I raise awareness with, Pancreatic Cancer UK and Pancreatic Cancer Action, are working hard to get GPs and all health professionals to recognise the symptoms. It can be very frightening to have tests but better than not.
Jeanc11
13th Nov 2018
5
Thanks for voting!
Thank you for highlighting the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. I was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in 2013 after having severe backache, weight loss, indigestion, abdominal pain and feeling of being full after just a mouthful of food. Fortunately I was diagnosed early before the cancer had spread and responded well to chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy. The tumour shrank but remained inoperable. I know I am very lucky to still be well as too many people are mis diagnosed or their symptoms are ignored completely.
1
Thanks for voting!
Thank you for helping us to raise awareness of this cancer Jeanc11 🙂
LizM2018
15th Nov 2018
2
Thanks for voting!
I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last August 2018. I was jaundiced and very itchy.
Unfortunately it has spread but I am hopeful of the tumour shrinking after chemotherapy which is due to start next week. I am eating and exercising to be as fit as I can for treatment. Google was optimistic for a change! I can live with remission.

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