What are some warning signs of pancreatic cancer?
Loss of appetite and weight loss: Unintended weight loss and loss of appetite can be warning signs of pancreatic cancer. Nausea and vomiting: The cancer can press on the far end of the stomach and partially block it, making it hard for food to pass. This may cause nausea, vomiting and pain after eating.
Based on a person's exam, lab tests, and description of symptoms, a doctor often orders an imaging test: Computed tomography (CT scan): A scanner takes multiple X-ray pictures, and a computer reconstructs them into detailed images of the inside of the abdomen. A CT scan helps doctors make a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
- The risk of developing pancreatic cancer goes up as people age. Almost all patients are older than 45. About two-thirds are at least 65 years old. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 71.
- Scientists don't know exactly what causes most pancreatic cancers, but they have found several risk factors that can make a person more likely to get this disease. Some of these risk factors affect the DNA of cells in the pancreas, which can result in abnormal cell growth and may cause tumors to form.
- Tests and procedures used to diagnose pancreatitis include: Blood tests to look for elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes. Computerized tomography (CT) scan to look for gallstones and assess the extent of pancreas inflammation. Abdominal ultrasound to look for gallstones and pancreas inflammation.
Acute pancreatitis signs and symptoms include:
- Upper abdominal pain.
- Abdominal pain that radiates to your back.
- Abdominal pain that feels worse after eating.
- Rapid pulse.
- Tenderness when touching the abdomen.
- The head of the pancreas is on the right side of the abdomen where the stomach is attached to the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum). The tail of the pancreas - its narrowest part - extends to the left side of the abdomen next to the spleen.
- Acute pancreatitis is inflammation that occurs suddenly in the pancreas. It can be very serious, even life-threatening. But it usually goes away within a few days of treatment. Gallstones and alcohol are common causes of acute pancreatitis.
- These tumors don't make excess hormones, so they don't cause symptoms in early stages and often grow quite large before they are found. Symptoms can be like those from exocrine pancreas cancers, including jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), belly pain, and weight loss.
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis:
- Upper abdominal pain that radiates into the back; it may be aggravated by eating, especially foods high in fat.
- Swollen and tender abdomen.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Increased heart rate.
- The prognosis is also better for those whose pancreatic cancer is diagnosed at an earlier stage. The median survival duration from diagnosis with chemotherapy medical treatment in locally advanced cancer of the pancreas has been reported as 6 to 12 months.
- The main symptom of pancreatitis is pain felt in the upper left side or middle of the abdomen. The pain: May be worse within minutes after eating or drinking at first, more commonly if foods have a high fat content. Becomes constant and more severe, lasting for several days.
- Conditions that can lead to pancreatitis include:
- Abdominal surgery.
- Certain medications.
- Cigarette smoking.
- Cystic fibrosis.
- Family history of pancreatitis.
- High calcium levels in the blood (hypercalcemia), which may be caused by an overactive parathyroid gland (hyperparathyroidism)
Updated: 3rd October 2019