Diseases Cancer

Common Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer


The common symptoms of pancreatic cancer rarely occur within the early stages of the disease. The lack of symptoms can often make reaching an early diagnosis difficult. Pancreatic cancer affects the pancreas and sometimes the tissue surrounding the organ. The disease has a poor survival rate and quickly spreads throughout the body. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of death by cancer. People who meet certain criteria or who are more susceptible to developing pancreatic cancer should have regular examinations and diagnostic testing to help detect the disease at the earliest stage possible.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include upper abdominal pain and loss of appetite. The symptoms can result in rapid weight loss that is not explainable by lifestyle changes. Other common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include depression, blood clots and jaundice. Jaundice causes a yellowing of the whites of your eyes and skin. Many of the common symptoms of pancreatic cancer do not occur until the disease is in its advanced stages. In addition to treating the cancer, a physician may prescribe medications to minimize the common symptoms of pancreatic cancer that a person may experience. Other symptoms including nausea, vomiting and hair loss can result once treatment of the disease has began. The symptoms experienced vary depending on the type of treatment used.

When To Seek Help

For people who have not been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, medical help should be sought if rapid, unexplained weight loss is experienced. A physician will perform diagnostic tests to determine if the disease is present. Common symptoms of pancreatic cancer often mimic other diseases, so a battery of exams will be needed to pinpoint the cause of a person's ailment. Tests to diagnose pancreatic cancer include blood tests, X-rays and an ultrasound. If cancer is suspected, a CT scan will also be performed. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, a biopsy will be performed to determine the stage of the cancer and to help map the treatment course for the disease. Due to the poor chances of survival from the disease, a physician may opt for a more aggressive treatment of the disease once it is detected. Treatment options for pancreatic cancer can include chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. In most instances, a physician may opt to combine treatment methods to treat the disease.

Tips and Comments

Pancreatic cancer has several risk factors that can contribute to the development of the disease. African-Americans, older people over the age of 60 and a family history of pancreatic cancer are often contributing factors to the disease. Although those particular factors are not something a person can control, there are factors that can be changed or controlled. People with diabetes and those overweight are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. Smoking is also a known risk factor that can increase the likelihood of a person having the disease. Tests can be performed to determine the likelihood that a person will develop pancreatic cancer as a result of medical history. A physician can provide additional information on the tests.

By Laurel Moore, published at 02/22/2012
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