Signs & Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be confusing to both patients and healthcare providers because they vary depending on where the tumor is located in the pancreas (the head, body, or tail). Furthermore, many of these symptoms are vague and non-specific and occur much more commonly with other conditions.
Pancreatic cancer may cause only vague unexplained symptoms. Pain (usually in the abdomen or back), weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and/or eyes) with or without itching, loss of appetite, nausea, change in stool, pancreatitis and recent-onset diabetes are symptoms that may indicate pancreatic cancer. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, we urge you to speak to your doctor immediately and reference pancreatic cancer.
Pain in the upper abdomen or back
Is a nonspecific symptom that commonly occurs with pancreatic cancer and may worsen when lying down or 3 to 4 hours after eating. Large tumours that press against nearby organs can cause pain. However, this symptom can be common with many other conditions and most likely is from something other than pancreatic cancer.
Changes in stool colour
Stools become pale and clay in color. This is often due to blockage of the bile duct. Stools can also have an odd, strong smell or float if they have too high fat content.
Overall skin itch
Is a less common and a vague symptom that is usually coupled with another symptom like abdominal pain or jaundice.
Loss of appetite and unintended weight loss
Is a symptom of various diseases and conditions, including pancreatic cancer. It can signal something severe or benign, such as a stomach virus. This is usually one of the first symptoms experienced along with abdominal pain.