Health & Wellbeing
World | Nov 26, 2021

Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Ategie Edwards

Ategie Edwards / Our Today


November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and, in light of this, Our Today will be providing our readers with some knowledge on the signs and symptoms related to this type cancer.

Ranked 11th among all cancers, pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant cells are found in the tissue of the pancreas. On average, diagnosis of this type of cancer usually occurs with individuals who are 60 – 65 years old. Early detection of pancreatic cancer can help to save lives.


In the early stages, pancreatic cancers do not often show signs and symptoms, they usually occur when the cancer is advanced, meaning it has grown very large or has spread outside of the pancreas.

Signs and symptoms include:

Weight loss or loss of appetite

Individuals who are suffering from pancreatic cancer more often than not tend have a loss of appetite which results in weight loss. Unintended weight loss can also occur due to pain and fatigue which causes them to lose interest in food.

  • Jaundice

Jaundice in most cases occurs as the first symptom. Jaundice, which is a yellowing of the eye and skin, is formed when there is a buildup of a dark yellow-brown substance made in the liver called bilirubin. This type of cancer can sometimes press on the duct and cause jaundice while the cancers are still fairly small. This can sometimes lead to these tumors being found at an early stage. Dark urine, light-coloured stools, greasy stool and itchy skin are also signs jaundice.

  • Pain in back or abdomen

This type of symptom is common in pancreatic cancers. The cancer can grow moderately large and begin to press on nearby organs which result in back or abdominal pain. The cancer can also spread to nerves around the pancreases which too, causes pain.

  • Vomiting and Nausea

Cancer may spread to the far end of the stomach and result in a blockage, creating difficulty for food to get through. This can result in vomiting, nausea or pain, that can worsen after eating.

  • Diabetes

Though pancreatic cancer may cause diabetes, this occurrence is very rare. Signs include feeling hungry and thirsty and having to urinate very often.

Growth of the gallbladder and liver

Created for the National Cancer Institute,

The cancer, if blocking the bile duct, may cause a build up in the gallbladder, which in turn enlarges the gallbladder. Similarly, if the pancreatic cancer spreads, the liver too is enlarged.

Blood Clot

Deep vein thrombosis or DVT which is a blood clot in a large vein, can sometimes be the initial sign of pancreatic cancer. If DVT occurs it is often times found in the leg and the individual may experience warmth, redness and swelling in the affected leg. The the clot can sometimes break and travel to the lungs making it difficult to breathe and causing chest pain. This is known as a pulmonary embolism.

Experiencing one or more of the sings listed below does not mean you have pancreatic cancer. Some of these symptoms might be the result of other conditions.


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