Pancreatic cancer symptoms are often difficult to detect, making it even harder to diagnose this potentially deadly disease. It's important to remember that many of the indicators will not present themselves until after the disease is in an advanced stage. Keep reading for a list of possible signs.
Among the basic pancreatic cancer symptoms is a soreness or pain in the high abdomen. Patients often complain that the pain spreads through the area and around to their back. Many people going through this type of discomfort will often experience alleviation once they lean forward.
This type of abdomen pain is usually present in the majority of patients (approximately 80%), but is typically only evident during the advance stages of the disease. Eating can often worsen the pain or cause increased discomfort.
Loss of Appetite
Weight loss and a decreased appetite are often typical symptoms affiliated with pancreatic cancer. Regrettably, these are also common signs often associated with other afflictions and diseases, particular those affecting the digestive system.
Painful or Painless Jaundice
Since pancreatic cancer can block the bile duct - which flows partly through the head of the pancreas - jaundice is a frequent symptom of the disease. Tumors that develop on the pancreas are typically the root of jaundice development, which is characterized by a yellowing of the skin.
Typically, jaundice for patients with pancreatic cancer is accompanied by dark urine and pruritus, or itching. Approximately half of pancreatic cancer patients with local forms of the disease experience painful jaundice while the other half with a curable or resectable lesion experience painless yellowing of the skin.
Trusseau Sign (Blood Clots)
Trusseau Sign is a secondary affliction that causes grumes or blood clots to develop in hepatic portal veins, abstruse veins and surface veins without warning. While not exclusive to patients with pancreatic cancer, it is often associated with the disease.
Though not as exhaustively accounted or referenced, depression is a subtle side effect of pancreatic cancer. The clinical depression often develops even before the disease is detected. Doctors and researchers are still unsure why or how the two connect.
How Pancreatic Cancer is Diagnosed
Pancreatic cancer is typically diagnosed after the above symptoms are either detected by the patient or the supervising doctor. After the indicators are evaluated, liver function tests and tests for CA19-9 - a marker for pancreatic cancer - are often performed.
CT scans and ultrasounds are other common methods of detecting pancreatic cancer and used to detect visible tumors or lesions. An endoscopic ultrasound or biopsy can also be used to obtain and test tissue samples.
Pancreatic Cancer Screening
If you have two or more immediate family members (or three or more extended relatives) who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer symptoms, you should ask your doctor about early screening for the disease. Pancreatic cancer symptoms often don't present themselves until it is too late, making early screening critical for those at risk.