Olivia Williams discusses ‘bizarre’ symptom of pancreatic cancer
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Pancreatic cancer starts in the hand-sized organ in your tummy called pancreas. Although the early stages of this cancer don’t often cause many symptoms, the tell-tale signs can appear in your poo once the condition progresses.
While bowel cancer is best known for causing changes to your stool, pancreatic cancer can also stir up problems in this area.
According to American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer can present with light-coloured or greasy stools.
These two tell-tale signs of cancer stool are caused by a lack of a yellowish substance called bilirubin.
Once the bile duct becomes blocked because of the growing tumour, your stools might turn light-coloured or grey.
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Furthermore, your poo can also become greasy and float in the loo once bile and pancreatic enzymes can’t reach the intestines to help break down the fats.
Clay-coloured and greasy stools are actually a sign pointing to another pancreatic cancer symptom called jaundice.
Considered to be one of the “first” symptoms, jaundice describes the yellowing of your eyes and skin, according to the American Cancer Society. This condition is triggered by an accumulation of bilirubin.
Your liver normally releases a liquid called bile with the yellowish pigment mixed in it.
Bile then goes through the common bile duct into your intestines, where it helps break down fats. Eventually, this liquid leaves your body in your poo.
However, cancer that starts in the head of the pancreas can eventually press on this duct, leading to blockage.
“When the common bile duct becomes blocked, bile can’t reach the intestines, and the amount of bilirubin in the body builds up,” explains the cancer portal.
This explains how pancreatic cancer can lead to jaundice as well as the tell-tale sign in your poo.
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Apart from changes in your stool and jaundice, pancreatic cancer can cause various other symptoms.
According to the NHS, the killer disease can trigger signs including:
- Loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
- Feeling tired or having no energy
- High temperature, or feeling hot or shivery
- Feeling or being sick
- Pain at the top part of your tummy and your back.
The health service explains that this type of back pain may feel worse when you eat or when you lay down. However, it can be eased by leaning forward.
The American Cancer Society adds that having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have pancreatic cancer as many other conditions cause similar signs.
However, the portal still urges getting checked if you suffer from problems like these.
The NHS explains that you will need different tests and scans to confirm the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
From blood tests to laparoscopy, there are various options available to determine the cause of your symptoms.
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