Pancreatic cancer symptoms: The ‘first noticeable symptoms’ of a tumour

Julia Bradbury shares advice for fans suffering with cancer

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Pancreatic cancer may not have any symptoms, or they might be hard to spot, so it is sometimes dubbed the “silent disease”. Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that’s found anywhere in the pancreas, which is an organ in the top part of your tummy. It is the 10th most common cancer in the UK, and some of the signs may be hard to spot.

NHS Inform says the first noticeable symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often pain in the back or stomach area, “which may come and go at first and is often worse when you lie down or after you’ve eaten” and unexpected weight loss.

Cancer Research UK says that pain in the stomach area or back is a common sign in those with this cancer.

It says that almost seven out of 10 people, or 70 percent, with pancreatic cancer go to their doctors because they have pain.

“Pain is more common in cancers of the body and tail of the pancreas. 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,” says the charity.

As pancreatic Cancer UK explains, “the pancreas plays an important role in digesting food and controlling your blood sugar level”, so pancreatic cancer can affect this, and cause weight loss.T

he NHS adds that jaundice can be a symptom, and “the most obvious sign is yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes”.

It also causes your urine to be dark yellow or orange and your stools (faeces) to be pale-coloured.

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Other possible symptoms of pancreatic cancer include nausea and vomiting, bowel changes, fever and shivering, indigestion and blood clots.

Many of these symptoms are very common and can be caused by many different conditions, but it is good to get them checked because if they’re caused by cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable.

There are also a number of different endocrine tumours that cause different symptoms, depending on the hormone the tumour produces.

Pancreatic cancer UK says: “Some people see their GP several times before getting a diagnosis.”

The charity adds: “If you have unexplained symptoms that last four weeks or more, go back to your GP until you get a firm diagnosis, or a referral for tests to find out what’s causing them.”

Sadly, around one in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives, according to the most accurate forecast to date from Cancer Research UK.

Some lifestyle factors and certain medical conditions can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

For example, around 20 out of 100 cases of pancreatic cancer in the UK are caused by smoking.

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 health body also says you might be more likely to get it if you are over the age of 75, as it is not very common in people under 40.

It says you have certain medical conditions, such as long-term chronic pancreatitis.

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