Your pancreas secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars.
This type of cancer arises when cells in the pancreas begin to multiply out of control and form a mass. These cancerous cells have the ability to invade other parts of the body.
Typically, it first spreads to nearby lymph nodes, and later to the liver, large intestine or lungs. It is uncommon for it to spread to the bones or brain.
Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly which is a major reason why it’s a leading cause of cancer death.
7 Warning Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Signs and symptoms of the most common form of pancreatic cancer may include:
1. Abdominal or back pain – At first the pain may come and go, but over time it may become more constant.
2. Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes – Jaundice develops when there is a build-up in the blood of a substance called bilirubin.
3. Light-colored stools
4. Unexplained weight loss – Losing a lot of weight for no particular reason can be a sign that something is wrong.
5. Loss of appetite
6. Blood clots
7. Dark urine
Read more about signs and symptoms here
Pancreatic cancer doesn’t usually give rise to any symptoms or signs in the early stages. This is the main reason why it can be so difficult to detect and diagnose.
It is important to remember that any of the symptoms described here are common for lots of illnesses and may not be a sign of pancreatic cancer.
If you have persistent unexplained symptoms, see your doctor to refer you for tests to explore what is causing them.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
- African-American race
- Having a family history of pancreatic cancer or pancreatitis
- Excess body weight
- Having a personal history of diabetes or chronic pancreatitis