Pancreatic Cancer: The Silent Killer
From time to time, we address most unpleasant topics in this forum. Pancreatic Cancer is one of these topics. There has been a modest increase in the incidence of this dreaded cancer such that nearly 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a cancer of the pancreas this year. Slightly more people are being diagnosed and slightly fewer are dying each year from it, but the 5 year survival after diagnosis is still only 8 percent which is scary bad.
Weakness Confusion Sweating And Fast Heartbeat
The pancreas plays an important role in digestion. If you develop a tumor in your pancreas, your digestive system may be affected, which can lead to general weight loss and/or a combination of the symptoms described below.
Abdominal Or Back Pain
Another symptom to be on the lookout for is pain in the abdomen or back. This type of discomfort is more likely to occur when the cancer develops in the body or tail area of the pancreas.
If a tumor is in the body or tail of the pancreas, symptoms may appear much later, Dr. Lenz says. This means the tumor may grow large, before you feel pain or discomfort in your abdomen or back.
He recommends getting a checkup if you experience any unexplained abdominal pain lasting for more than one to two weeks.
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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Often Mistaken For Skin Infection
Inflammatory breast cancer accounts for 1 to 5% of all breast cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute, and is often mistaken for a breast infection like mastitis or a skin infection like cellulitis. The symptoms skin redness, swelling, and pain can be similar, although inflammatory breast cancer is also associated with skin thickening and a pitted appearance that resembles an orange peel.
It’s common and appropriate for a primary care doctor to prescribe antibiotics when these symptoms are present, said Jeremy Force, MD, Finleys medical oncologist and an expert in inflammatory breast cancer at the Duke Cancer Center in Durham. Problems arise when the symptoms dont go away. If symptoms get worse, people need to follow up with their doctor and ask whats next, Dr. Force said. Inflammatory breast cancer can be cured if caught early but left untreated, it can spread or metastasize beyond the breast quickly.
Changes To Bowel Habits
Pancreatic cancer can cause diarrhoea and constipation . If you are over 60, have lost weight and have diarrhoea or constipation, your GP should refer you for a CT scan or ultrasound scan within two weeks.
Pancreatic cancer can also cause pale, oily poo which is called steatorrhoea. Poo may be large, smell horrible, float and can be difficult to flush down the toilet. This is caused by fat in the poo. It happens if pancreatic cancer has affected your digestion, so that fat in your food isnt digested properly.
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Signs Of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer can have symptoms similar to viral hepatitis or gallstones, or no symptoms at all. Because of this, its often diagnosed after it has spread. Symptoms may include:
- Pain in the upper abdomen, often with pain in the back directly behind the upper abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
- Floating or foul-smelling stools
- Ascites, a condition in which excessive fluid builds up in the abdominal cavity causing swelling and distention of the belly and, sometimes, pain and difficulty breathing
- New or sudden worsening of diabetes
- Difficulty swallowing, which becomes worse over time
- Excessive burping
- Loss of appetite or feeling full early after starting to eat
- Weakness or fatigue
Cancer Symptoms: Top 14 Early Signs To Look Out For
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Cancer survival is significantly more likely when a tumour is still localised and hasnt yet spread to other body parts. This is why time is of the essence when diagnosing the disease. New survey data, however, suggest a staggering number of women are unaware of the signs of the “particularly aggressive and deadly” form of cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer.
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Lower Back And Abdominal Pain
Both back pain and abdominal pain are also popular symptoms in those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The sharp pain is usually felt in your upper abdomen and then radiates gradually toward your back.
Many people suffering from pancreatic cancer also report that they suffered from the severe pain more at night and they blended forward to get a slight relief from this condition.
A study in 2022 found that pancreatic cancer patients may have abdominal pain because the tumor size increases, invasion of the lymph node metastasis, anterior pancreatic capsule, and intra-pancreatic nerves.
If you have difficulty in reducing the pain of mild and moderate abdominal, you should consult your doctor. Most patients having severe abdominal pain are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
In fact, the area in which you feel pain is also beneficial in determining the tumor location.
Early Warning Signs Of Pancreatic Cancer You Should Know
The pancreas is a large gland in the stomach that produces enzymes into the small intestine to aid the food digestion. Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal growth of cells in the pancreas.
In the early stages, this disease doesnt usually cause any strange symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose. As a result, pancreatic cancer is often caught too late. Thats why its so important to watch out for the early signs.
Here are 6 of the surprisingly early signs of pancreatic cancer. If you notice some of them, contact your doctor immediately.
1. Itchy Feet And Hands
The small pancreatic tumor starts blocking the bile duct. The bile releases compounds in the blood that cannot break down and theyre accumulating in feet and hands and making them itch.
2. Yellowing Eyes
The accumulation of bile in the blood is also called jaundice. The yellow pigment of the bile starts showing in your eyes.
3. Stomach pain
Stomach pain like a hunger pain or gnawing can be a sign of pancreatic cancer.
4. Strange Stools
When bile isnt processing properly, your stool wont have the normal color. Thats a sign that something strange is developing in your pancreas.
5. Sudden weight loss
When tumor starts developing in the pancreas, it prevents your body from proper food digestion. This means that fat, sugar and essential nutrients just passing through your without sticking.
6. No Appetite
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You Were Recently Diagnosed With Diabetes Or Your Well
Research suggests that a sudden onset of type 2 diabetes in people age 50 or older may be an early symptom of pancreatic cancer, especially in those who have a low body mass index, experience continuous weight loss or do not have a family history of diabetes.
Review the infographic for a closer look at pancreatic cancer symptoms and risk factors.
Diabetes And Pancreatic Cancer
While less common, developing diabetes may be a sign of pancreatic cancer, especially in patients who are older and have diabetes come on suddenly.
Sometimes, pancreatic cancer may damage the cells in your pancreas that help produce insulin , leading to high blood sugar and diabetes.
The cancer may not always alter blood sugar levels enough to show signs of diabetes, but if it does, symptoms may include increased thirst, hunger and urination.
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Pancreatic Cancer Is A Notoriously Deadly Disease That Is Hard To Catch Early Here Are Some Symptoms To Look Out For
Pancreatic cancer has a bad reputation and for good reason. Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, after lung and colon, according to the National Cancer Institute.
There are very few early warning signs of pancreatic cancer, which makes it difficult to diagnose in its initial stages, says Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD, an oncologist at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Keck Medicine of USC.
Plus, the location of the pancreas makes it hard for doctors to feel tumors during regular checkups. The pancreas is located deep within your body, in between your stomach and spine. Oftentimes, this means the cancer isnt found until the cancer has spread, which makes it harder to treat. While the symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be tough to identify, Dr. Lenz shares seven signs to be on the lookout for and bring to your doctors attention.
Symptoms Of Endocrine Pancreatic Tumours
Endocrine pancreatic tumours are uncommon. They are also called neuroendocrine tumours. Most pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours don’t produce hormones so don’t cause specific symptoms.
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours that produce hormones are called functional tumours. The symptoms are different for each type, depending on the hormone the tumour produces.
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Less Common Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer
Other people we talked to had more unusual symptoms. Michael said that after drinking wine he would wake in the night with indigestion and the shivers and that he would sweat for the next 12 hours. Maureen felt as though she had an alien just under her ribs. Davinder and Ben had other unusual symptoms.
Pancreatic Cancer And Diabetes
Pancreatic cancer can cause diabetes. Common symptoms of diabetes are hunger, thirst and weight loss. Steve noticed that his vision had deteriorated. He also had leg cramps at night and he was very thirsty. He had recently had his eyes tested so was confused. He went to another optician, who referred him to an ophthalmologist. Meanwhile, Steve decided to have a blood test and a doctor diagnosed diabetes. Then Steve developed jaundice, and his skin became itchy. He had an ultrasound scan, which showed that a tumour in his pancreas had caused his diabetes.
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What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms
If you have jaundice, go to your GP or A& E straight away.
If you have any of the other symptoms, you dont know why you have them, and they last four weeks or more, go to your GP.
Give your GP a good description of your symptoms. Mention anything unusual, even if you are not sure if it is relevant. If your GP asks you to come back and see them at a later date, make sure you do. Read more about visiting your GP, and our tips for helping you talk to your GP.
If you have symptoms of pancreatic cancer, its really important that you contact your GP, despite the current situation with coronavirus. Dont worry about your GP or the NHS being too busy at the moment, or it being unsafe.
Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer
In the early stages, a tumour in the pancreas doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose.
It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be caused by many different conditions, and aren’t usually the result of cancer. But you should contact your GP if you’re concerned, or if these symptoms start suddenly.
The first noticeable symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often:
- pain in the back or stomach area which may come and go at first and is often worse when you lie down or after you’ve eaten
- unexpected weight loss
- jaundice the most obvious sign is yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes it also causes your urine to be dark yellow or orange and your stools to be pale-coloured
Other possible symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
- nausea and vomiting
Read more about treating pancreatic cancer.
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Sudden And Unexplained Diabetes
If you are suddenly diagnosed with diabetes with no apparent reason or any family history of this problem, you can have a risk of pancreatic cancer. A pancreatic tumor may destroy cells making insulin in the pancreas, which leads to diabetes.
You may suffer from some common symptoms of diabetes such as urinary urgency, constant fatigue, numbness in your toes and fingers, and vision conditions. Hence, if suddenly suffer from diabetes with no reason, you should choose to screen for this pancreatic cancer regularly.
Signs And Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer
Early pancreatic cancers often do not cause any signs or symptoms. By the time they do cause symptoms, they have often grown very large or already spread outside the pancreas.
Having one or more of the symptoms below does not mean you have pancreatic cancer. In fact, many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, its important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
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Thousands Of Pancreatic Cancer Patients Die Early Study Warns
Thousands of patients are dying early because pancreatic cancer is being missed on scans, a damning study has warned.
More than a third of pancreatic cancer cases were potentially avoidable if they had been picked up sooner, researchers found.
But the UK study found many patients were being denied potentially curative surgery because signs were not being picked up after scans.
Researchers examined 600 scans of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at two NHS trusts in England between 2019 and 2021.
They found almost one in 12 were categorised as post-imaging pancreatic cancer cases – when a patient undergoes an MRI or CT scan that fails to pick up cancer before later being diagnosed.
In almost half of PIPC patients examined, there were signs of cancer that had been missed when scans were reviewed by a specialist hepatobiliary radiologist.
More than a quarter signs associated with pancreatic cancer, such as dilated bile or pancreatic ducts, were not recognised and investigated further.
Dr Nosheen Umar, lead author of the study, from the University of Birmingham, said the oversights were costing lives.
‘There is often only a very short period for curative surgery in pancreatic cancer, meaning it is vital that patients are diagnosed with the disease as early as possible to give them the best chance of survival,’ he said.
Pancreatic cancer kills around 9,600 people in the UK every year, with around 10,500 newly diagnosed.
Symptoms And Signs Of Pancreatic Cancer
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer such as pain and weight loss are nonspecific, leading to a later diagnosis by which time the disease has spread. By the time of diagnosis, 90% of patients have locally advanced tumors that have involved retroperitoneal structures, spread to regional lymph nodes, or metastasized to the liver or lung.
Most patients have severe upper abdominal pain, which usually radiates to the back. Weight loss is common. Adenocarcinomas of the head of the pancreas cause obstructive jaundice in 80 to 90% of patients. Cancer in the body and tail may cause splenic vein obstruction, resulting in splenomegaly, gastric and esophageal varices, and gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
The cancer causes diabetes in 25 to 50% of patients, leading to symptoms of glucose intolerance . Pancreatic cancer can also interfere with production of digestive enzymes by the pancreas in some patients and with the ability to break down food and absorb nutrients … read more ). This malabsorption causes bloating and gas and a watery, greasy, and/or foul-smelling diarrhea, leading to weight loss and vitamin deficiencies.
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Common Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer
The following are the most common signs of exocrine pancreatic cancerspecifically for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. This cancer starts in the ducts of the pancreas and represents more than 90 percent of all diagnoses. Neuroendocrine tumors are much less common and may present different symptoms.
Patients may experience symptoms differently and should not expect to manifest all symptoms listed.
Symptoms Of Rare Pancreatic Cancers
Islet cell tumors, also called neuroendocrine tumors, arise from the cells in the pancreas that make hormones. Islet cell tumors account for less than 5% of all pancreas tumors.
Like pancreatic adenocarcinoma, islet cell tumors may cause abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Hormones released by an islet cell tumor can also cause symptoms: These include
- Insulinomas : sweating, anxiety, lightheadedness, and fainting from low blood sugar
- Glucagonomas : diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, weight loss
- Gastrinomas : abdominal pain, stomach ulcers that can bleed, reflux, weight loss
- Somatostatinomas : diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, foul-smelling fatty stools
- VIPomas : watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, facial flushing
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Strengths And Limitations Of This Study
- As is appropriate for this qualitative approach, we aimed for maximum variation and not numerical representation we included people with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, not just those who had particular concerns about their prediagnostic symptom experiences or diagnostic delay.
- The finding on intermittent symptoms emerged during analysiswe did not ask specifically whether symptoms occurred intermittently.
- Our study is based on people’s recall of events, which is considered a bias in some research traditions, yet these accounts also emanate from those who, having been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, are likely to have thought long and hard about how and when their cancer started. Using qualitative, interpretive methods allows us to analyse and learn from these recollections.