Guidance for Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Pancreatic cancer is a very aggressive form of cancer and even when caught early, it is a particularly fatal form of cancer. It is difficult to diagnose and the symptoms associated with it are very similar to the symptoms of other less fatal diseases. Around 7800 people a year are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK and due to its aggressiveness it is important to be able to recognise the symptoms and speak to your doctor at the earliest chance possible.

Guidance for Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms – What are the Symptoms?

The main symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain, usually radiating to the lower back.  This pain is often mistaken for trapped wind, particularly since it seems to feel better when leaning forward and worse when lying down.


  • Fever and cold chills, often mistaken for a simple virus.


  • Extreme weight loss, often overlooked because pancreatic cancer is more common in the elderly, who often suffer from appetite loss for a variety of reasons.


  • Diabetes, often seen as an illness on its own rather than a symptom of pancreatic cancer.


  • Jaundice, whereby the skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow and urine is very darkly coloured.

Guidance for Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms – Who is at Risk?

Pancreatic cancer is most common in men than in women.  It is also more common in the elderly.  It is incredibly rare for those under the age of 40 to develop pancreatic cancer and does not become a common cancer until over 60.  Smoking also significantly increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer and it is thought that up to 20% of those who have pancreatic cancer are smokers.

There are also certain medical conditions that increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.  These include diabetes and chronic pancreatitis.  Stomach ulcers are also thought to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.  It is not clear whether or not diet plays a significant role in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.  However, it has been determined that being overweight and not engaging in any or very little physical activity does increase the risk.

There also seems to be a genetic link in developing pancreatic cancer.  This has not been scientifically determined yet, but statistics show that pancreatic cancer is more common in certain families than others, suggesting the genetic link is there.

Guidance for Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms – Outlook

The outlook for pancreatic cancer is very bleak.  It is generally not discovered until it is in an advanced stage, which significantly decreases the likelihood of survival.  Generally, once pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, patients are given around one year to live and the statistic survival rate for those in whom it is already in an advanced stage is usually only around seven months.  With those in whom pancreatic cancer is discovered early, the survival rate is only around 20% after five years, which decreases to around 5% with those in whom it was discovered at a more advanced stage.

Guidance for pancreatic cancer symptoms is also necessary for counselling.  Mood swings are a common occurrence as a symptom of pancreatic cancer, but many patients also become depressed as they struggle to accept the finality of their illness.  Counselling should always be offered to those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to help them deal with the seriousness of their situation.  Generally, counselling is also offered to their families, friends and carers as they will also have to struggle with this terminal illness.

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