You are the monitor of your own organs, and when we say organs, you probably think of your heart, lungs, brains, and colon… Pancreas? Not really.
The pancreatic cancer is extremely rare compared to other forms of the illness, but it is also among the deadliest. According to the American Cancer Society, 55,440 people were diagnosed in 2018 with pancreatic cancer, and 44,330 died from it. These are not simple numbers; it is scary and we must be aware of this illness before it is too late.
The scarier thing is pancreatic cancer is not easy to detect, and it can even spread early on to other organs. This is why it is important to be aware of all the symptoms that even doctors will not pay attention to. Watch your body closely and increase your chances of revival, it is your responsibility to keep yourself healthy and alive.
#1 – Your eyes and skin turn yellow
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Jaundice is the condition when the eyes and skin turn yellow, and it happens because of a buildup of bile, or bilirubin, in your bloodstream. When the cancer cells are growing close to the pancreas, and while the bile duct is passing through the organ, the tumor may compress the bile duct, causing it buildup in the bloodstream.
When the whites of your eyes and skin become yellow, then you should understand that it is the actual color pigment of the bile that’s running in your blood, which is being deposited in fat and skin.
Other symptoms associated with jaundice are light, clay-colored stool and dark, Coca-Cola colored urine.
#2 – Greasy stools
One of the pancreas’ most important roles is digesting fats. So if the pancreatic enzymes and bile are not capable to make their way into the intestine – say, a tumor is blocking it – the undigested fat would be lifting the fat content of the stool, which is going to make it look greasy. In fact, it might even float on top of the water in your toilet.
However, don’t be quick to judge because greasy stools could be a reason for other simple things, like the food you consume or another simple issue in the intestines. But it is better to be safe, so don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.
#3 – Stomach pain or nagging back
The pancreas is located deep in our abdomen, so if there is an irritation of the nerves in the spine, then it is because the cancer is there, which causes the nagging pain in the upper-middle back.
Back pain is something that should never be neglected, many people think they just pulled their back, and in a few days, it will get better. Delaying the treatment of the illness could be the worst mistake to do, so never ignore a “simple” pain.
Pancreatitis can also be caused by pancreatic cancer, which is an inflammation that leads to abdominal pain. It is not necessary to have both abdominal and back pain, it could even be neither.
#4 – Unexplained, rapid weight loss
There are some cancers compounds that can get into the blood, leading the body to start breaking itself down, which can explain the rapid weight loss; the skeletal muscle and fat tissue would both break down.
Many types of cancers can cause the same thing, but there is a reason why pancreatic cancer could be the cause of it in particular: You are not absorbing enough proteins and fats appropriately, so even if you eat well, you will not be absorbing all the calories you are consuming.
So when you notice a sudden weight loss, even though you have been feeling good (no mental disturbance), sleeping well, and doing everything right, you have to see your doctor just to make sure everything is fine.
#5 – Vomiting and nausea
Of course, there are endless reasons why we would be feeling nauseous, but cancer is definitely linked to it, especially if it is pancreatic cancer considering the important role the pancreas plays in digestion.
The pancreas is right next to our duodenum and stomach, which is basically the first part of our intestine. There could be a large mass pushing on it, and that can affect the way food goes to the GI tract after leaving the stomach. The latter will not get emptied the right way, which will lead to excessive vomiting and feeling nauseous constantly.
#6 – A lump below the right side of the ribcage
Pancreatic cancer can actually make you feel your own gallbladder in your abdomen’s upper right quadrant, poking out from under your rib cage. That’s because of the bile and how it drains at the bile duct. If the latter and the gallbladder are blocked because of pancreatic cancer, the gallbladder could become large and distended to the point you can feel it.
Doctors always warn people to never neglect any unusual lamp appearing on their bodies. It could be as simple as an innocent pimple or as dangerous as a cancer tumor. Always keep your body checked and seek help whenever something abnormal appears.
#7 – A swelling leg
Lack of exercise can lead to a painful, swollen leg, but it can be a sign of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which occurs when a blood clot forms within a vein, and it usually happens in one of our legs.
In general, cancer is known to increase the risk of blood clots in patients because it can create a hypercoagulable state that leads to form clots in an unusual way. This is dangerous because the blood clot can reach the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
Always keep a close eye if you experienced shortness of breath out of nowhere or a prolonged rapid heart rate. The illness can be fatal, but definitely treatable when caught early. Just make sure to never ignore any simple symptom!
#8 – A diabetes diagnosis
According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer can lead to diabetes, but it is a rare case. Cancer will destroy the cells responsible for making the insulin, and when it happens, people would feel a lot more hungry and thirsty than usual, which is another symptom that may not be a big concern.
However, there are a few patients that may not have any symptoms, but they could still detect through blood tests.
All of these pancreatic cancer symptoms can easily go unnoticed, but keep in mind that our bodies are not perfect, and anything could happen to anyone of us. But as long as you are cautious about everything, you will be walking on the safe side, guaranteed with a healthier life.