Pancreatic cancer symptoms: The indigestion signs which can crop up ‘as the cancer grows’
Olivia Williams discusses ‘bizarre’ symptom of pancreatic cancer
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The Mayo Clinic explains: “Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produces hormones that help manage your blood sugar.” Cancer Research UK explains pancreatic cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms in the early stages, but “as the cancer grows it can start to cause symptoms”.
The charity advises: “Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be vague. They can be caused by other conditions, but it’s important to get them checked by a doctor.See your GP if you have any new symptoms or symptoms that aren’t going away”.
It says indigestion causes heartburn, bloating and sickness and notes that it is a common problem in the general population, and for most people it isn’t a sign of cancer.
Nonetheless, “if it is persistent or isn’t getting better with medicines, you should go back to see your doctor”.
Indeed, Pancreatic Cancer UK says: “Indigestion causes a painful, burning feeling in your chest. It can also leave a bitter, unpleasant taste in your mouth.”
It adds: “Indigestion can be a symptom of pancreatic cancer, but it can also be a symptom of more common problems and not due to pancreatic cancer. Speak to your GP if you get indigestion a lot.”
Cancer Research adds that almost seven out of 10 people with pancreatic cancer go to their doctors because they have pain.
The charity says: “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.“
It continues: “The pain is worse when you lie down and is better if you sit forward. It can be worse after meals.
“Some people may only have back pain. This is often felt in the middle of the back, and is persistent.”
The charity says many people with pancreatic cancer have jaundice when they first go to their doctors.
It explains: “Bile contains a lot of yellow pigments so it turns the skin yellow. This may be less noticeable in black or brown skin. It is often easier to spot in the whites of the eyes rather than the skin.”
The NHS says some other symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:
- Feeling tired or having no energy
- A high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery
- Feeling or being sick
- Diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo.
The health body says having symptoms does not definitely mean you have pancreatic cancer. But it’s important to get them checked by a GP.
“This is because if they’re caused by cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable,” it states.
The Mayo Clinic states: “It’s not clear what causes pancreatic cancer. Doctors have identified some factors that may increase the risk of this type of cancer, including smoking and having certain inherited gene mutations.”
The NHS also notes that the causes of cancer are complex and it may be caused by a variety of things, including your genetic make-up and lifestyle choices, such as smoking.
The health body explains: “Although scientists now know more about the causes of cancer, we still need more research. We don’t properly understand exactly what causes pancreatic cancer, although we do know some risk factors. A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease.
”It says there is good evidence that age, smoking, being overweight, a family history of pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis, and diabetes may increase your risk of pancreatic cancer.
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