Pancreatic cancer is the fourth highest cancer killer in the United States. It has no early identifiable symptoms. This makes it all the more difficult to detect. By the time it gets detected, it is invariably too late. The median survival for pancreatic cancer patients is three to six months after it is detected.
The symptoms are hard to detect. It usually starts with loss of appetite. This could due to any number of reasons. So nobody thinks that pancreatic cancer could be the cause. Another symptom is loss of weight without somebody trying for it. This could be due to a tumor growing some where within the body and this is causing shortage of nutrients to the remaining healthy parts. Where exactly this abnormality is taking place is another guessing game. Third symptom when it develops probably gives a clue. Pain in the upper abdomen is the third symptom. This pain is known to start in the upper abdomen and radiate to the back. But by the time this symptom has developed, the tumor would have grown quite a bit and would have spread to other areas nearby.
The fourth symptom is the jaundice without any pain associated. Due to the growth of a tumor nearby, the flow of bile from the bile duct gets blocked and this produces painless type of jaundice. Yellow skin, dark urine and pale stool are indications of this jaundice. Next symptom is itching. This occurs in the later stages of the disease. As the pancreas gets blocked, the bile that is discharged can cause itching all over the body.
As the cancer advances, nausea and vomiting become common. The pancreas when functioning normally releases enzymes required by the body for digestion. Now that function gets disturbed and this leads to digestive problems. Most of these symptoms occur in the late stages of the disease. That is why these patients have high mortality rate.
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