The pancreas, a gland in your body, performs two vital functions – it controls your blood sugar levels and assists the digestive process. It sits behind your stomach and works by secreting enzymes and hormones like insulin and glucagon. We all know that cancer can affect any part of the body and the pancreas is not an exception. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer does not result in signs or symptoms in the early stages. If someone is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, 90% of the time, they are in the advanced stage of the disease. If you or anyone you know happens to experience one or more of the following symptoms, please do not take it easy and immediately speak to a doctor.
1. Unintentional Weight Loss
Losing a few kilograms might be motivating, but you definitely must suspect it if you rapidly lose weight without any effort. Many serious diseases cause this symptom in common, including pancreatic cancer. Cancer of the pancreas leads to incomplete digestion. Growing cancer feeds on your body’s energy. It also increases the body’s inflammatory levels, alters hormones and metabolism, leading to rapid weight and appetite loss.
2. Bloated and Swollen Tummy
Feeling bloated is normal, and most people undergo it at times due to simple causes like menstrual periods, food habits, etc. But did you know that even deadly conditions cause bloating? The rapid growth of pancreatic cancer disrupts digestive function, resulting in gas formation and bloating. It also leads to fluid build-up in your abdomen, known as ascites, which might be the cause of a swollen tummy.
3. Unexplained Stomach and Back Pain
As pancreatic cancer grows, it begins to spread and grow out of the pancreas to block the digestive tract and exert pressure on nearby nerves and organs, leading to a dull and intermittent stomach pain radiating to the back.
4. Yellow Skin and Eyes
If you observe yellow skin and eyes, itching, dark urine, and clay-colored stools, do not ignore them. They are the signs of jaundice. This happens due to the blockage of the bile duct by pancreatic cancer. This blockade leads to bile build-up in the blood, causing jaundice symptoms.
5. Sudden Onset Diabetes
If you are above the age of 50, have no family history of diabetes, and are suddenly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or if you are under medication for diabetes and your blood sugar levels keep changing abruptly, it might be indicative of early-stage pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is a silent disease and is not perceptible in its initial stages. Although having all these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean one has pancreatic cancer, it is always better to get yourself checked to rule out any deadly health condition. Since these symptoms are vague and often occur with other simple causes, it is easy for you to ignore them.