Several types of cancers exist today. Pancreatic cancer is one type that affects many individuals. Medical professionals have studied the causes of pancreatic cancer in an effort to find a cure for the condition. To this end, medical professional continue to ask two questions – what is cancer and what are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer? In order to understand and identify the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, a person needs background information on cancer and the pancreas.
Cancer and the Pancreas
Cancer occurs when there is abnormal growth of cells in an area of the body. The pancreas is an organ in the digestive and endocrine system of humans and most mammals. This organ acts as an endocrine gland which produces several hormones and an exocrine gland which performs the function of secreting pancreatic juice which contain digestive enzymes that pass to the small intestine. These enzymes help to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the body.
The symptoms of pancreatic cancer do not usually appear until the condition is in its advanced state thus early detection is not easy. Even in its advanced state, some symptoms may be played off as everyday ills. These include headache, weight loss and stomach pains.
Abdominal pain is a common symptom of pancreatic cancer. These pains usually occur in the upper abdomen and can spread to the back. They may get more intense after lying down or two to three hours after eating.
Yellowing of the Skin
This yellowing of the skin is called jaundice. The eyes also become yellow. This is as a result of increased bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice also occurs when the cancer tumor blocks the bile ducts preventing the flow of bile.
Changes in Urine and Stool Color
Due to the impeding of the bile flow, stool and urine may have a pale look. The stool will also have a strong odd smell.
Diabetes will occur due to the pancreas’ reduced ability to make insulin.
The following are also symptoms but they are usually misdiagnosed as other conditions:
Pains and the general loss of appetite results in dramatic weight loss. This is usually attributable to other things and not diagnosed as a symptom of pancreatic cancer.
Loss of Appetite
This occurs with even the common flu so it is not until the pancreatic cancer has reached an advanced state that this is seen as a symptom.
This is usually misdiagnosed as a nutrient deficiency or a dermatological issue.
Especially in women, this is usually diagnosed as menstrual pains and not symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
The only way to be certain that a person does not have pancreatic cancer is to consult a doctor and do regular medical checkups. Knowing about the symptoms will help individuals to detect pancreatic cancer before it’s too late to act. Adopting a healthy lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise will also help to minimize the symptoms of pancreatic cancer.