As if aging didn’t come with enough health concerns to be on the lookout for, pancreatic cancer disproportionately affects seniors. Over 68% of all cases are diagnosed in people over 65. Pancreatic cancer is serious, but the earlier you catch it, the more you and your doctor will be able to do to treat it.
For that reason, it’s worth having an idea of the common symptoms of pancreatic cancer to look out for. Keep in mind that many of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer included in post are common signifiers of other diseases or issues, so having them doesn’t mean you have the disease. It does mean that you should bring up your symptoms and concerns with your doctor so they can run the proper tests to determine whether pancreatic cancer is what’s behind what you’re feeling.
Common Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin
Pancreatic tumors can block your bile duct, causing a build up of bile that can’t get out. In these cases, a side effect of pancreatic cancer is jaundice, which causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to start to turn a yellow color.
- Discolored urine
Another common side effect of jaundice is urine that’s of a darker color than usual. Pay attention to any changes in the color of your urine.
- Greasy and discolored stools
This is a third symptom related to jaundice. When your bile is blocked, your stools turn a more pale color. In some cases, they can also become greasy and be more likely to float.
- Itchy skin
When bile builds up in your body, in addition to turning your skin yellow, it can start to make your skin itch as well.
- Back pain
Sometimes the location of pancreatic cancer means that as it grows it starts to push up against the organs and nerves around your pancreas. At times, this results in back pain.
- Belly pain
For the same reason, pancreatic cancer with a slightly different location can press on nerves in your abdomen, causing pain in your belly.
- Loss of appetite
If the tumor causing pancreatic cancer presses on a patient’s stomach, it can cause discomfort that makes eating more difficult and less appealing, which tends to lead to a loss of appetite and weight loss.
Along those same lines, a tumor pushing on the stomach is likely to cause nausea and vomiting as well.
- Blood clot
Sometimes the first clear sign of pancreatic cancer is a blood clot forming in one of your veins, often (but not always) in the leg. The symptoms of a blood clot include swelling, the skin turning red, and pain.
- Stomach ulcers
Pancreatic tumors release a hormone that causes the stomach to create a surplus of acid. This can cause stomach ulcers and contribute to nausea and vomiting. If untreated, it can cause bleeding as well and lead to anemia.
Some forms of pancreatic cancers can destroy the cells in your body that create insulin and thus cause diabetes. While having diabetes usually doesn’t mean you have pancreatic cancer, the symptoms of diabetes can sometimes alert you to the possibility of pancreatic cancer.
When your body’s not working right, trying to get through the day and accomplish basic tasks will often take up more energy than you have. Therefore, another common symptom of pancreatic cancer is a general sense of fatigue.
Taken on its own, pretty much every symptom of pancreatic cancer is a common symptom of a number of other health issues seniors may experience. So if you have any of these symptoms, don’t panic. Set up a doctor’s appointment to talk to them about how you’ve been feeling and ask what they think. They can run the proper tests to find out if what you’re dealing with is actually pancreatic cancer, and provide you with a course of treatment if you are.