Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Pancreatic cancer occurs in the pancreas, which is an organ found deep in the abdomen. The pancreas supports the digestive system and produces the main hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. It is when these two functions are disrupted that pancreatic cancer symptoms occur.

What are Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms?

The problem with pancreatic cancer symptoms is that they could indicate any number of common illnesses, therefore making diagnosis difficult.  The main early pancreatic cancer symptoms include:

  • Pain – often felt intermittently at first, increasing as the tumour grows.  The pain is often worse when lying down or after eating a meal.  The pain will ease on sitting up and leaning forward.


  • Unexplained weight loss – if there is no obvious reason for weight loss such as increased exercising or restricted diet then pancreatic cancer could be indicated.  This occurs due to a number of factors such as low amounts of enzymes that support digestion, loss of appetite and disruption to sugar metabolism.


  • Jaundice – this is diagnosed when the skin and the whites of the eyes take on a yellow tinge.  This can be caused when the bile that is produced by the pancreas is absorbed into the blood rather than transported to the digestive system, due to a tumour causing a blockage.  Your skin may also be itchy.


If the cancer is at a later stage other pancreatic cancer symptoms may be experienced before or after diagnosis, although some may never be a problem.  These additional symptoms include:

  • Diabetes – due to the disruption of the hormones needed to regulate blood sugar levels, diabetes often occurs.  An indication that you may have developed diabetes as a result of pancreatic cancer would be an excessive thirst, increased need to urinate and weakness, together with weight loss.


  • Bowel disturbances – passing large, pale, smelly stools that float indicates an imbalance of digestive enzymes which could indicate pancreatic cancer but are also an indication of other stomach disease.


  • Nausea with sickness – could be caused by a number of factors connected with pancreatic cancer, including hormone imbalance or pressure due to a large tumour.


  • Fever and shivering – inflammation and chemical imbalance may lead to a temperature increase which results in shivering.

Steps to Take if you have Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Should you experience any of these symptoms on their own or a number together please speak to your doctor as soon as possible.  Whilst the NHS offers a good service if undue delays occur then it could be advisable to make an appointment with a private consultant to speed up the process, as early diagnosis leads to better outcomes.

Whilst pancreatic cancer symptoms can easily be explained away by other illnesses, as a patient you should be aware of the possible connection between your symptoms and ensure you discuss your fears with your doctor or consultant.  Whilst doctors are highly trained you know your body best and can sometimes see the “big picture” that may be missed by the professionals.  It is always best to make sure the professionals have all the facts so don’t hold back on any detail no matter how embarrassing or trivial it may seem.

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Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms