Pancreatic cancer signs and symptoms to look out for
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About 9,600 people are diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas in the UK each year. Like all cancers, acting on the symptoms as soon they appear greatly strengthens survival outcomes. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer may not cause symptoms for a long time.
Some of the most perceptible warning signs are associated with jaundice, which can develop if the cancer blocks the bile duct, explains Macmillan Cancer Support.
Jaundice is when your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow.
As Macmillan Cancer Support explains, jaundice can also cause pale and smelly poo that is difficult to flush away.
Other symptoms of jaundice include:
- Itchy skin
- Dark yellow pee (urine).
It is worth noting that pancreatic cancer is not the most common cause of jaundice.
“Other illnesses, affecting the liver and bile duct, are more common causes,” explains Macmillan Cancer Support.
Other possible symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
- Loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
- Feeling tired or having no energy
- A high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery.
How to respond
According to the NHS, it’s important to get any of the above symptoms checked by a GP.
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At your appointment, the GP may feel your tummy and ask you to give a pee sample or have a blood test, explains the health body.
“The GP may refer you to see a specialist in hospital for more tests if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated,” it adds.
Am I at risk?
Anyone can get pancreatic cancer – it’s not always clear what causes it.
However, there are a number of factors known to increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Having any of the risk factors does not mean that you will definitely develop the cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, around 20 out of 100 cases of pancreatic cancer in the UK (around 20 percent) are caused by smoking.
“Cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco all increase pancreatic cancer risk,” warns the charity.
Studies have given mixed results but using Scandinavian snus (a type of smokeless tobacco popular in Norway and Sweden) could increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Another modified risk factor linked to pancreatic cancer is obesity.
As Cancer Research UK reports, more than 10 in 100 pancreatic cancers in the UK (more than 10 percent) are linked to being overweight or obese.
“This increase in risk could be because the pancreas makes more insulin in overweight people,” warns the charity.
You might also be more likely to get it if you:
- Are over the age of 75, it is not very common in people under 40
- Have certain medical conditions, such as long-term chronic pancreatitis
- There is a history of pancreatic cancer in your family.
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