Important to know what are the 30 pancreatic cancer signals since cancer in the pancreas is the ninth type of cancer that causes death to women and the fourth in terms of both sexes.
According to recent research, survival greater than five years for an early diagnosis is only 8%, and decreases to 3% when it is an advanced diagnosis.
This is mainly due to the fact that this type of cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose and is usually discovered when it is already in an incurable stage.
What is pancreatic cancer? It is a disease in which the healthy cells of the pancreas stop working as they should, and begin to grow in an uncontrolled way.
As cancer cells begin to multiply, they form tumors that can begin to spread to other parts of the body. When pancreatic tumors get large, they begin to impact the function of other organs. This can lead to digestive problems as the stomach begins to produce too much acid. In addition to problems with the liver and the production of bile.
According to medical experts, there are two main types of pancreatic cancer: exocrine tumors and endocrine tumors. Exocrine tumors are the most common, and begin growing in the pancreas ducts. Endocrine tumors are also known as “islet cell tumors” and the pancreas can continue to function despite cancer. Either way, only 1% of pancreatic cancer patients have this second, more benign form.
Due to the fact that pancreatic cancer is so difficult to diagnose, we think it is important to provide as much information as possible about the most common signs and symptoms of this disease. Remember that the key to maintaining a healthy body is not only nutrition and exercise, but also making sure we pay attention to what our body tells us every day. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should go for a checkup with your doctor.
SIGNS OF POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS OF PANCREAS CANCER
One of the hallmarks of pancreatic cancer is jaundice, which is yellow pigmentation in the eyes and skin. According to the American Cancer Association, most cases of pancreatic cancer begin with signs of jaundice. Jaundice is the result of increased bilirubin (a substance produced by the liver). Usually, it is excreted by the liver in the bile, however, when the bile ducts become blocked, it can accumulate in the body, usually due to pancreatic cancers that start at the top of the body. As the cancer expands, it usually moves to the liver, which leads to jaundice.
Another very common symptom of pancreatic cancer is dark urine. This is also a consequence of the increase and accumulation of bilirubin in the body. While the blood levels reach their maximum of this substance, the urine turns brown. It is recommended that if you have this symptom in the urine on a regular basis, you will carry out studies and a review with your doctor as soon as possible.
It is not very pleasant to talk about the subject, but greasy stools are another symptom of pancreatic cancer. This is due to tumors blocking the bile ducts, which means an increase in body toxins and an inability to digest fat.
Apart from becoming greasy, stool can also get a gray color due to pancreatic cancer. The gray color is attributed to bile and pancreatic enzymes that can not reach the intestine and help break down fat molecules. This results in gray and floating stools that usually have a very soft consistency.
If you notice that your skin begins to turn yellowish and itch, it is time to go see the doctor. Research has shown that these symptoms are clear indicators of pancreatic cancer and should be taken seriously. This, again, is the result of the increase in bilirubin that accumulates in the skin.
Another very common symptom of pancreatic cancer is abdominal pain. This is due to the fact that when the cancer begins to grow in the body, it can begin to press on other organs, including the stomach. This can lead to what feels like a simple stomach pain, however, if it remains very constant, we suggest seeking medical support immediately.
When the cancer begins in the tail of the pancreas, it can expand to the surrounding nerves, which often triggers intense pain in the lower back. As the cancer grows, it can lead to an intense increase in the pressure of the spine, which triggers other serious problems.
Due to the multiple ways in which the pancreas impacts the natural daily function of the body, when the cancer expands, it can decrease appetite and even trigger a significant weight loss. If you notice that you are losing weight for no apparent reason, you should immediately go to the doctor.
As pancreatic cancer grows, it can begin to press the stomach, and in extreme cases, block stomach access. This makes it difficult for food to pass from the stomach to the intestines, resulting in severe nausea and vomiting. These symptoms tend to appear after eating food in advanced cases.
If cancer in the pancreas begins to block the bile ducts in the body, bile may begin to build up in the gallbladder, which causes it to begin to grow. As the gallbladder expands, it can become a hard mass on the lower right side of the ribs, which can be easily felt in a routine medical examination.
Pancreatic cancer can also enlarge the liver as a result of the accumulation of bile and bilirubin. Sometimes this enlargement is caused by cancer spreading in the liver. Most doctors can feel this abnormal increase with a physical examination, therefore, it is one of the easiest symptoms to detect.
Usually, one of the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer is visible blood clots in the leg. Technically, it is called deep vein thrombosis. The symptoms are leg pain, redness, swelling and heat in the leg with the clot. In the worst case scenarios, the clot may rupture and travel to one of the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism. This can be fatal if not treated immediately.
When pancreatic cancer grows undetected, layers of uneven fatty tissue may begin to accumulate under the dermis. This results from the release of enzymes from the pancreas responsible for digesting fat. When this process is interrupted, the fat begins to accumulate in abnormal ways.
This is one of the less frequent symptoms of cancer in the pancreas, but a small number of people who suffer from it can develop diabetes. Although this is very unusual and most of the time it is pancreatic tumors affecting the level of sugar in the bloodstream in a way that mimics diabetes.
Pancreatic cancer can sometimes trigger the body to develop gastrinomas, which are tumors that produce the hormone gastrin, which sends an order to the stomach to produce more acid. Thanks to these gastrinomas, the stomach can secrete much higher amounts of acid than normal and develop ulcers and even internal bleeding.
Due to the vast number of symptoms that a patient can develop, it can be difficult for doctors to determine when it is pancreatic cancer or other types of tumors. If you are suffering from a glucagonoma, it will secrete glucagon, which can increase sugar and glucose levels in the blood and mimic diabetes. A distinctive symptom of this type of tumor is irritation of the tongue and the edges of the mouth, as well as a rash called “necrolytic erythema of a migratory nature”. According to the American Cancer Association, the rash is red and bulky and is the main reason why a patient with glucagonoma visits the doctor.
Insulinomas are tumors that produce insulin. The increase in insulin can cause the body to suffer from effects associated with low blood sugar, such as confusion, weakness, increased heart rate and sweating. Having low levels of sugar in the bloodstream can cause serious complications when the body is producing too much insulin.
This type of tumors releases the chemical somatostin, which naturally helps regulate hormones. When the hormones are out of control, you can develop a multitude of symptoms associated with many other problems, including nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain and jaundice. But the symptoms do not appear until advanced stages. Normally, when doctors diagnose this type of tumor, the cancer has already spread to areas such as the liver.
VIPomas secrete abdominal vasoactive peptide and can cause body damage and complications such as diarrhea. The symptoms are mild at first but gradually increase in intensity and frequency as the problem grows. By the time people seek medical attention, diarrhea is severe and dehydration also. So if you are experiencing any similar symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. People diagnosed with VIPomas also have digestive problems due to decreased levels of digestive acids.
They secrete pancreatic polypeptide, which regulates the activity of the pancreas and the gastrointestinal secretions involved in digestion. You can feel pain in the lower belly as well as in the liver due to the high levels of this substance.
Carcinoid tumors cause problems because they create an excess of serotonin, which is disintegrated by the liver before it can take its way to the blood and body. The liver does an amazing job of getting rid of excess chemicals to prevent any damage to the body, so virtually no symptoms of a carcinoid tumor exist until it has spread beyond the pancreas.
These are probably the most elusive tumors of the pancreas, since they do not cause any hormonal imbalance, which means that they are completely asymptomatic in their primary stages. The lack of symptoms allows these tumors to reach enormous sizes and gives them time to metastasize to the rest of the body.
When pancreatic tumors metastasize, a wide variety of symptoms can appear, depending on the location to which the cancer has spread. Unfortunately, for this reason, pancreatic cancer usually expands, making it very difficult to treat. Commonly progresses to the liver, when symptoms of liver failure and jaundice. But it can also reach higher organs such as the lungs and the brain.
If a patient exhibits signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, there are multiple tests that a doctor can administer to try to discover the possible causes. First, a physical examination and a medical history review. Depending on the findings, the doctor could choose between an ultrasound, a scan or even a biopsy or exploratory surgery. These tests are also used to check if the treatment is working and if the cancer is expanding.
If your doctor finds cancerous matter, you probably use a test called somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (SRS) to determine where the cancer cells are located. This test does not work for all the types of tumors that we listed before, but it can help with some. The process begins with a chemical called octreotide, which is bound with a radioactive material and injected into the blood. A couple of hours later the doctors use a special camera that gives them a detailed of the areas with the problem, and helps them determine the best treatment.
Because of the connection between pancreatic cancer and liver problems, a blood test can be done to determine the level of liver function commitment, as well as to obtain a white blood cell count. These results can be used to determine the exact cause of liver failure. Blood tests can also be helpful in determining what type of tumors are growing.
Most of the time, a biopsy is necessary to find out what type of tumors we are dealing with and what state the cancer is in. This involves performing an outpatient procedure in which a small sample of the tumor is removed. The sample is reviewed under a microscope and then classified. This is the only way to be 100% sure of the type of tumor. Although in some cases, there is enough evidence to skip this step.
As with any other type of cancer, the pancreatic can be classified in different stages depending on their level of development. The American Cancer Association classifies the stage of cancer according to three factors: the size, if it is near a lymph node, and how fast it grows and spreads. The higher the number in each category, the more advanced the cancer.
Not all pancreatic cancers are the same. There is a real difference depending on the location of the cancer in the pancreas. If the cancer appears on top of it, it will cause symptoms such as jaundice, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and back pain. Cancer that is located in the body of the pancreas usually causes abdominal pain.
Although the exact cause of pancreatic cancer remains unknown, there are some risk factors that have been determined to increase the chances of developing the disease, such as hereditary genetic mutations. A genetic test can help determine if you are at high risk for pancreatic cancer from a hereditary or acquired mutation. Acquired mutations can result from exposure to radioactive chemicals, tobacco, obesity and alcohol abuse.