Pancreatic cancer symptoms are often difficult to detect, making it even harder to diagnose this potentially deadly disease. It’s important to remember that many of the indicators will not present themselves until after the disease is in an advanced stage. Keep reading for a list of possible signs.
Among the basic pancreatic cancer symptoms is a soreness or pain in the high abdomen. Patients often complain that the pain spreads through the area and around to their back. Many people going through this type of discomfort will often experience alleviation once they lean forward.
This type of abdomen pain is usually present in the majority of patients (approximately 80%), but is typically only evident during the advance stages of the disease. Eating can often worsen the pain or cause increased discomfort.
Loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss are also common symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, appetite loss and decreased weight are also symptoms associated with a number of other diseases and ailments, including digestive issues.
Painful or Painless Jaundice
Since pancreatic cancer can block the bile duct – which flows partly through the head of the pancreas – jaundice is a frequent symptom of the disease. Tumors that develop on the pancreas are typically the root of jaundice development, which is characterized by a yellowing of the skin.
Generally, those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer see jaundice companioned with orange or dark urine and constant itching of the skin. Roughly one-half of localized pancreatic cancer patients endure painful jaundice, while half of those with less advanced or treatable forms of the disease are diagnosed in the midst of painless jaundice.
Trusseau Sign is a secondary or complex evidence where blood clots form in portal blood vessels, deep veins and superficial veins spontaneously. It is sometimes associated with or common to patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Though not as exhaustively accounted or referenced, depression is a subtle side effect of pancreatic cancer. The clinical depression often develops even before the disease is detected. Doctors and researchers are still unsure why or how the two connect.
How Pancreatic Cancer is Diagnosed
To properly diagnose pancreatic cancer, your doctor must either do a liver function test or check for certain markers, like CA19-9, which indicate the presence of pancreatic cancer when detected in high amounts. Most patients are not screened until the above symptoms are presented.
In addition, imaging such as ultrasounds and a CT scan on the abdomen can be done to identify potentially visible tumors. Some patients may require an endoscopic ultrasound to obtain tissue samples or see the tumor location.
Early Screening for Pancreatic Cancer
If you have two or more immediate family members (or three or more extended relatives) who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer symptoms, you should ask your doctor about early screening for the disease.
Pancreatic cancer symptoms often don’t present themselves until it is too late, making early screening critical for those at risk. So any multiple incidents of signs described above should be evaluted by a trusted physician.