Early Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Early pancreatic cancer symptoms can be easily dismissed as any number of other less serious diseases making this a very difficult cancer to diagnose. As early detection greatly increases the chances of successful treatment, awareness of these early symptoms can really make a big difference.

What are Early Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms?

Although these symptoms may not lead to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, they are a starting point in considering whether further blood tests or scans are required.  Early pancreatic cancer symptoms may include but are not limited to:

  • Pain – whilst pain may be felt intermittently to begin with, if it is eased by sitting up and on leaning forward but increases on lying down or after eating, it may be an indication of pancreatic cancer.  The pain sometimes continues to develop and move around from the abdomen to the back.  The pain may be similar to that experienced if your liver or gall bladder are inflamed or enlarged, so these possibilities need to be ruled out.


  • Unexplained weight loss – as weight loss can occur intentionally due to increased exercise or reduced calorie intake, it is only unexplained weight loss that needs to be taken into consideration.  The weight loss may occur when pancreatic cancer is in the early stages due to disruption of the digestive system or the effects of pain on the appetite.


  • Jaundice – a tumour that blocks the passage of bile from the pancreas to the digestive system may in turn cause jaundice.  This is due to the bile entering the blood stream instead of being used in the digestion process.  As bile is a yellow substance it turns the skin and the whites of the eyes yellow and you may experience itchy skin.  The bile may also turn urine a darker than usual colour.


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

Steps to Take if You Have Early Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Any of the above symptoms on their own or a number together should give you good cause to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.  Early detection can make the difference between a healthy future or further pain and possibly invasive treatments so making a prompt visit to your GP could be sensible.  Although your GP may not feel that the symptoms you describe are an indication of pancreatic cancer, they should be monitored closely, with further tests if necessary, and should you feel uncertain a second opinion or a private consultation may be worthwhile.

However be cautious in putting two and two together and making five as not all the symptoms lead to pancreatic cancer, but the more symptoms you have the likelihood is increased that you may have pancreatic cancer.  The knowledge of how your own body works and the ability to know when it is not working properly will help in the diagnostic process.

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