The pancreas is an organ that plays a vital role in converting food into fuel for cells. It also helps in digestion and the regulation of blood sugar. When cancer cells form in the cells of the pancreas, it leads to pancreatic cancer. People who smoke and those who have diabetes are vulnerable. 90% of people who get pancreatic cancer are 55 years and above. Here are warning signs of pancreatic cancer you must watch out for.
One of the major signs of pancreatic cancer and visible symptom is jaundice. This happens when the cancerous cells block the bile duct of the liver. Jaundice causes yellow skin and eyes, dark-colored urine, and pale-colored stool. Jaundice is a serious condition that comes with severe abdominal pain. So, you will need to see a doctor to get some relief.
Usually, a doctor will suggest that plastic be placed within the bile duct to keep it open. The procedure for inserting the plastic or metal tube is Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) (1). Since there are other causes of jaundice, you will need to carry out a test. That’s when you will know if it’s caused by cancer or other things.
2. Loss of Appetite/Weight Loss
Pancreatic cancer also leads to unexpected or unexplained weight loss. People with pancreatic cancer lose weight when the cancerous cells consume their energy.
Also, a cancerous pancreas leads to a tumor. The weight of the tumor and the size can occupy or press against your stomach. When this happens, you eat less and start losing weight.
Pancreatic cancer may also prevent your body from making digestive juices. The effect of this will reduce your body’s ability to process nutrients, thereby leading to weight loss. Weight loss or loss of appetite is a life-threatening situation.
Despite pancreatic cancer, patients need to find ways to increase their nutrient supply. That’s the only way to ensure survival and ingest enough food to have energy.
3. Digestive Problems
Having a challenge stooling or digesting food may be signs of pancreatic cancer. For your body to digest food, it needs to produce digestive enzymes. Most of these enzymes come from the pancreas that goes into your stomach. Pancreatic cancer cells start to develop from the cells that produce digestive enzymes.
Also, pancreatic cancer interferes with the essential process of breaking down food. Without this process, the body can’t absorb the nutrients that are heavy (2). Poor food absorption may lead to bloating, greasy stool, diarrhea, and vitamin deficiencies. It can also lead to extra fluid buildup in the stomach that makes it protrude.
If you experience any of these symptoms and especially when you’re over 45 years, see a doctor. After a test, the doctor can determine if your symptom is a result of pancreatic cancer.
To fight against the effects of digestive problems, you might need to change your diet. Doctors may also prescribe some medication to improve nutrient supply to your body.
4. Extreme Fatigue
There are many reasons why someone will experience extreme fatigue. It’s one of the main symptoms of pancreatic cancer that brings the person down. Pancreatic cancer doesn’t show any symptoms for several years or in the early stages. It comes out during the later stages or when it has become large. That’s why if you have extreme fatigue that refuses to go, you need to check yourself with the doctor.
Extreme fatigue caused by pancreatic cancer is a result of a low supply of nutrients to your body. When your cells don’t get enough vitamins, they begin to get weak. This weakness translates to your entire body making you feel tired and worn-out. To fight extreme fatigue, you might need to find ways to sleep better at night.
It will be best if you also reduce stress. Adding stress, anxiety, and depression to your pancreatic cancer will lead to problems. Stop smoking. Excessive smoking is a lifestyle choice that causes extreme fatigue and pancreatic cancer.
It will help if you also try to cut off caffeine and reduce or stop alcohol consumption. At this time, taking care of your health is extremely vital to your survival. Put your health first before anything else.
The issue of diabetes comes up when discussing signs of pancreatic cancer. Diabetes is a disease that happens when your body can’t handle sugar intake. But when you have diabetes very often or recently diagnosed, then it can be pancreatic cancer.
Some people can’t win the war against their diabetes simply because of the cancer cells. That’s why when you have diabetes that refuses to subside; you might need to check yourself (3). Pancreatic cancer is closely related to the regulation of blood sugar, making diabetes a serious issue.
6. Belly/Back Pain
Cancers that grow in the belly can press on other organs within the region of the body. When this happens, you’re very likely to experience pain in the belly. Too much pain can also extend to your back. This can cause back pain and discomfort in your spine. Severe pain is something you can’t ignore.
Also, too much pain due to pancreatic cancer can reduce the quality of life. Many people also find it hard to become as productive as they may want to be.
Belly and back pain can be reduced by simple exercise and getting enough rest. You need to give your body everything it needs to replenish lost energy. Reduce stress and depression and find ways to optimize your lifestyle.
It will help if you are also careful of what you put inside your mouth. Eating the wrong food can lead to situations that will make your back pain even worse. Eat food that is easy to digest and with less fat.
7. Nausea and Vomiting
Signs of pancreatic cancer that many people have experienced are nausea and vomiting. You may not feel anything when pancreatic cancer cells start developing in your body. But as it grows larger, it presses to the stomach’s far end, blocking it (4), making it hard for food to pass, thereby leading to vomiting and nausea. You may also feel pain after eating sometimes.
Aleksandra Nico, Psy.D., is a Psychologist and Editorial Assistant for Whatsdalatest who writes about mental health, relationships, human behaviour, and health. Aleksandra is passionate about helping others make well-informed choices to support and improve their physical and emotional well-being.