5 Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer
Jaundice: This yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes is caused by the buildup of bilirubin, a dark yellow-brown substance made by the liver. Cancers starting in the head of the pancreas are near the common bile duct, according to the ACS. This type of cancer may press on the duct and cause jaundice, which could lead to finding the tumors at an early stage. But cancers that start in the body or tail of the pancreas don’t press on the duct until after they have already spread through the pancreas and possibly beyond. Dark urine, too, can be a sign of jaundice, and bilirubin buildup can also lead to itchiness on the skin.
Light-colored or greasy stools: Bilirubin helps give stools their brown color, so when the bile duct is blocked, stools may be gray or pale. Pancreatic cancer can also make it difficult for the intestines to help break down fats, so stools may become greasy and float in the toilet.
Belly pain: Pain in the abdomen (belly) or back is common with pancreatic cancer. “Cancers that start in the body or tail of the pancreas can grow fairly large and start to press on other nearby organs, causing pain,” the ACS says. “The cancer may also spread to the nerves surrounding the pancreas, which often causes back pain. Of course, pain in the abdomen or back is fairly common and is most often caused by something other than pancreatic cancer.”
Loss of appetite and weight loss: Unintended weight loss and loss of appetite can be warning signs of pancreatic cancer.
Nausea and vomiting: The cancer can press on the far end of the stomach and partially block it, making it hard for food to pass. This may cause nausea, vomiting and pain after eating.
A more detailed list of symptoms is available from ACS.
via AARP 5 Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer