Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms Faqs

Pancreatic cancer is a reasonably common but no less devastating form of cancer. Due to the location of the pancreas within the body, it is common for other organs to be affected, which makes pancreatic cancer such a terrible illness.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms FAQ # 1 – What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

The symptoms of pancreatic cancer generally start with pain, usually in the general area of the stomach and slowly spreading to the back.  The pain is often mistaken for trapped wind, as it seems to get better when leaning forward and worse when lying down.  Another symptom of pancreatic cancer is jaundice, which happens once the liver becomes affected.  Jaundice usually manifests itself as yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, as well as in very dark coloured urine, sometimes compared to the colour and consistency of cola. 

Usually, in the early stages of pancreatic cancer, there is generally a lot of unexplained weight loss.  Once the cancer progresses, many of those afflicted with the disease find they become diabetic, have bowel issues, feel nauseous and sick and have extreme fevers.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms FAQ # 2 – What are the causes and risks of pancreatic cancer?

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown.  Trials are currently taking place to determine whether there is a genetic cause of pancreatic cancer, meaning that some people may be genetically predisposed to having the illness.  The risks of pancreatic cancer mainly involve age.  Almost 80% of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are over 60 and this form of cancer is extremely rare in the under 40s.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms FAQ # 3 – Treatment

Treatment of pancreatic cancer will depend on what stage the cancer is in.  Generally, the most common forms of treatment include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.  Deciding on which type of treatment is best for you will be done together with a team of medical professionals and you will be able to play a role in making the decision that is best for you.  Of course, the team of medical professionals will inform you if your general health makes you unsuitable for a certain type of treatment.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms FAQ # 4 – Is the outlook positive?

Pancreatic cancer is one of the more fatal forms of cancer.  Prognosis is generally not good and in recent clinical trials of 43,000 sufferers, only around 6,000 survived.  Pancreatic cancer is often detected very late, at which point treatment only prolongs life, rather than curing the cancer.  The survival rates depend on what stage the cancer is in once treatment begins and the severity of the tumour or tumours.  Overall, one year after diagnosis around 25% of patients still live, but five years after diagnosis, this percentage drops to around 5.5%.  However, if the disease is caught very early and hasn’t spread, the survival rate is around 20%.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms FAQ # 5 – Where should I go to discuss my symptoms?

If you find you have pancreatic cancer symptoms, the first place to go would of course be your GP.  There are also many support organisations that you could go to, including MacMillan, NHS Direct and the Pancreatic Cancer Support Group UK.

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Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms Faqs