Pancreatic cancer is a class of cancer that occurs when the abnormal cell growth begins in the pancreas. These abnormal cells keep dividing and form lumps of tissue called tumors. The tumors then disrupt the main function of pancreatic. The more dangerous is when the tumors had success spread to other parts of the body and grows, invading and destroying other healthy tissues. The process called metastasis, resulting to more serious condition that is difficult to treat.
Each year, more than 30,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S. and around 9,000 people diagnosed in the UK. Because pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed late development, the survival rate in five years after diagnosis is less than 5 percent.
Pancreatic cancer symptoms can be vague and vary depend on the location and size of the tumor. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer often do not appear until the disease is at an advanced stage. However, when the tumor grows, symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include:
- Abdominal pain
Abdominal pain is a common symptom of pancreatic cancer. This usually occurs in the upper abdomen and may spread to the back, causing back pain. The pain may usually worsen when lying down or 3 to 5 hours after meals.
- Unexplained weight loss
People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer may suffering lose weight (about 10% of their total body weight) without apparent reason. Weight loss is a common symptom in individuals with pancreatic cancer.
- Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite is a symptom of hundreds of diseases and conditions, including pancreatic cancer. This can be severe signal, or even associated with something as small as a stomach virus. If poor appetite persist, visit your GP to make an accurate diagnosis.
- Nausea and vomiting
If the cancer presses on the far end of the stomach it can partly block it, making it hard for food to get through. This can cause nausea, vomiting, and pain that tend to be worse after eating.
Some people suffering from pancreatic cancer found themselves suffering from diabetes. This probably because the cancer cells can produce chemicals that interfere with the normal effect of insulin – a hormone that helps control blood glucose levels. As a result, the sugar stays in the blood rather than being used as fuel by the body cells, resulting in high blood sugar levels.
Jaundice, a condition characterized by yellowing of the skin and eyes generally occurs in people with pancreatic cancer. This occurs when the tumor is fully or partially block the bile duct that slowing the flow of bile.
Jaundice is not the common symptom of pancreatic cancer. Other diseases, such as gallstones, hepatitis, and other liver and bile duct diseases, can also cause this symptom.
- Blood clots
A blood clot can be a sign of pancreatic cancer. The cancer itself causes changes in the blood that increases the risk for blood clots. This is called a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Symptoms can include pain, swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected leg. Sometimes a piece of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs, which might make it hard to breathe or cause chest pain.
But again, having a blood clot does not usually mean that you have cancer. Most blood clots are caused by other conditions.
If you experience any pancreatic cancer symptoms above, then see your doctor immediately. Even if they are not associated with pancreatic cancer, they are symptoms that have to be aware about.