What are the Different Pancreatic Cancer Signs?

Malcolm Tatum

The development of a pancreatic tumor is usually an event that carries serious consequences. When pancreatic cancer is present, the pancreas is unable to produce the enzymes needed to promote proper digestion of food, as well as inhibit the ability of the organ to produce hormones that help to regulate the proper assimilation of sugar. There are several pancreatic cancer signs that indicate the presence of a tumor in the pancreas, with some signs impacting the emotional well being of the individual as well as physical health.

Smoking is one of the major risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
Smoking is one of the major risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

One of the first pancreatic cancer signs to appear is a change in the pallor of the skin. The individual will appear to develop jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin, for no apparent reason. At the same time, the yellow tinge is also likely to begin appearing in the whites of the eyes, giving the individual a general look of being unwell.

A yellowing of the skin and a sudden loss of weight are common signs of pancreatic cancer.
A yellowing of the skin and a sudden loss of weight are common signs of pancreatic cancer.

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Other pancreatic cancer symptoms usually begin to develop soon after the appearance of the jaundice. The individual will normally experience a sudden lack of interest in food. At first, this may manifest as an indifference to eating in general, since foods that were once appealing begin to hold no special attraction. Over time, this indifference begins to negatively impact any desire to eat at all. As a result, the individual suffering with the cancer will exhibit another of the more common pancreatic cancer signs: a sudden loss of weight.

The rate of pancreatic cancer survival is generally very low.
The rate of pancreatic cancer survival is generally very low.

With the changes in appearance and the apathy toward food consumption, other pancreatic cancer signs begin to develop. The individual is likely to become more easily irritated, and appears to have little to no patience with people and events that formerly caused no irritation at all. As the condition worsens, the individual is likely to experience periods of depression that gradually become stronger and more prolonged. It is not unusual for panic attacks and related phobias to also develop in conjunction with the depression.

The pancreas gland plays a vital role in digestion and in insulin and glucagon production.
The pancreas gland plays a vital role in digestion and in insulin and glucagon production.

Physical pain is also one of the more common pancreatic cancer signs. Usually, the pain will begin in the abdomen and seem to travel up and down the spinal column. As the cancer advances, the pain becomes more prominent, sometimes making it possible to function with any semblance of normality. This can serve to deepen the depression and irritability, and may discourage any lingering interest in consuming any food.

Several abdominal organs, including the pancreas.
Several abdominal organs, including the pancreas.

In general, the rate of pancreatic cancer survival is very low. This is because the signs tend to not manifest until the disease has advanced, rendering most forms of pancreatic cancer treatment ineffectual in terms of preventing death. However, treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery can sometimes be employed to slow the progress of the condition, and provide a measure of relief from most of the pancreatic cancer signs.

A yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes is the main symptom of pancreatic cancer.
A yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes is the main symptom of pancreatic cancer.

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