Most people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are already at an advanced stage when they are diagnosed, and the usual prognosis is to die within five years. Only 4 percent of pancreatic cancer patients survive more than five years.
In recent years, many celebrities and public figures such as Steve Jobs, actor Patrick Swayze, and actress Bonnie Franklin have died of pancreatic cancer, and many people ask, “Are there early signs of pancreatic cancer?” “
The answer is yes, there is.
Diabetes, especially if it appears suddenly. The Mayo Clinic recently published a surprising study showing that 40 percent of pancreatic cancer patients were diagnosed with diabetes one to two years before they developed pancreatic cancer. Researchers believe diabetes is caused by an as-yet-undetected tumor. The problem is that diabetes is so common and most diabetes cases are not pancreatic cancer that doctors are developing screening tools to tell the difference. Right now they say family history is important information. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and it comes on suddenly, and you don’t have a family history of diabetes, talk to your doctor and ask for more tests to screen for pancreatic cancer.
Yellowing of the eyes or skin. Even small pancreatic tumors can block the bile ducts in the head of the pancreas, causing bile to accumulate. It causes jaundice.
Itchy skin, palms and soles. A lesser known side effect of jaundice is itchy hands and feet. It is caused by a skin reaction to bilirubin, a yellowish-brown liver chemical that causes jaundice.
Loss of appetite. An Italian study found that 6 to 8 months before developing pancreatic cancer, patients experienced a sharp decline in appetite and felt full after eating very little.
Changes in taste. In an Italian study, some of the patients in the study said that they suddenly lost their taste for coffee, wine and smoking. In fact, they said they “abhor” the smell and taste of coffee and alcohol.
Abdominal pain. People with pancreatic cancer remember this pain as a biting pain rather than a sharp cramp or ache, radiating down the spine. Characteristic symptom: pain disappears when bending forward.
Gallbladder enlarged. Blockage of the bile duct, which causes jaundice, also causes the gallbladder to enlarge, so bile accumulates behind the duct. The good news is that an enlarged gallbladder can be seen on imaging tests and a doctor can feel it during a physical exam.
Pale, floating, smelly stools. If a pancreatic tumor prevents digestive enzymes from entering the intestine, the result is an inability to digest fatty foods. Therefore, as a result of excess fat, you will become a weak and smelly “floater”. Doctors say that this symptom is often overlooked because it can be an early symptom.
Dark, tarry stools. Bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract can cause this symptom.
Sudden, unexplained weight loss. Weight loss is not a symptom of cancer that many people mistakenly believe has spread to the liver. This can also happen because a lack of pancreatic enzymes causes fat to pass through the body without being digested.