The pancreas produces digestive juices and insulin, as well as other hormones to do with digestion. The symptoms will vary depending on where the cancer is in the pancreas, though there are several signs to be aware of. Not everyone has every symptom. Pancreatic cancer is more common in older people, and in the past 10 years, pancreatic cancer rates have increased.
There are several signs to look out for on your skin which may indicate the cancer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, they include yellowing of your skin, which is jaundice, and itchy skin.
Cancer Research UK says that almost seven out of 10 people with pancreatic cancer go to their doctors because they have pain.
“People describe it as a dull pain that feels as if it is boring into you. It can begin in the stomach area and spread around to the back. The pain is worse when you lie down and is better if you sit forward. It can be worse after meals,” it says.
The Mayo Clinic states: “See your doctor if you experience any unexplained symptoms that worry you.”
Cancer Council says: “Pancreatic cancer is often called the silent killer, and with good reason – most patients don’t experience symptoms until the cancer is big enough to impact the surrounding organs. Even then, the symptoms are often vague.”
Cancer Research UK says: “Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be vague. They can be caused by other conditions, but it’s important to get them checked by.”
Many people with pancreatic cancer have jaundice when they first go to their doctors. Most of them will have pain as well, which can often be seen in the skin and eyes.
The wee is darker than normal and poo may be lighter in colour, the charity adds.
People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer might have recently lost a lot of weight for no apparent reason.
Some people diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas are found to be newly diabetic. Some have been diagnosed with diabetes within the previous year.
“Occasionally, pancreatic cancer is linked to blood clots. They may form in the deep veins in the legs for example, or in smaller veins anywhere on the body,” Cancer Research UK says.
Although it is not always possible to prevent pancreatic cancer, making healthy lifestyle choices could lower your chances.
The NHS recommends losing weight if you are overweight and cutting down on alcohol and both red and processed meat.
The Mayo Clinic says: “Pancreatic cancer treatment options are chosen based on the extent of the cancer.
“Options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of these.”