As is the case with colon cancer, pancreatic cancer doesn’t usually show many symptoms during the early stages of the tumor’s development. This makes the disease difficult to notice and diagnose since the tumor is small, and the cancer localized.
Why do symptoms for pancreatic cancer vary?
Depending upon the health and function of the individual, pancreatic cancer symptoms will be displayed slightly different in everyone. As the pancreas consists of two different glands, the symptoms that are displayed depend on which gland is being affected by the cancer. The following displays the two glands and their role within the body.
Hormone producing gland which forms insulin, the hormone responsible for stabilizing blood sugar levels
Enzyme Secreting gland which produced digestive enzymes that aid the chemical breakdown of food.
95% of all pancreatic cancer diagnoses are for tumors located within the exocrine gland. The symptoms displayed by people with this affliction are listed below.
· Unusual or unexpected weight loss
· Yellowing of the skin or eye whites (Jaundice)
· Sharp, stabbing pains in the back of the stomach or upper abdomen
Although these symptoms are displayed in people who may be suffering from pancreatic cancer, they can be present as a consequence of various health complications. Once a doctor has observed symptoms, you may be required to undergo a number of tests such as urine sampling or a physical examination. These initial tests will check for the presence of bile or the indications of a tumor.
Why does pancreatic cancer cause back or abdomen pain?
As the pancreas is located above the stomach, in the higher abdomen, pains in the back and stomach areas can be indicative of pancreatic problems. Depending on the stage of development, that the tumor is undergoing, the intensity of pain felt will vary. If the gall bladder becomes enlarged, there may also be feelings of pain or tenderness where the liver is located.
Why does pancreatic cancer cause weight loss?
As the pancreas is responsible for producing the enzymes needed for proper digestion and aiding in the absorption of nutrients from food, those with pancreatic cancer are more likely to lose weight or be malnourished despite having a balanced diet. The digestion of foods that are high in fat is particularly affected by this, meaning that weight loss is more prevalent.
What are other symptoms of pancreatic cancer?
Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include the development of diabetes, especially if the endocrine gland is affected (due to its role in insulin production). Blood clot formation may also become more common, due to blood sugar levels not being controlled.
Problems with bowel movements and the passing of waste are also common symptoms of pancreatic cancer; these are related to problems with the exocrine gland, as the enzymes for digestion are being affected.