Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Early pancreatic cancer symptoms depend on the region of the pancreas in which the cancer is located. The vast majority (95%) of pancreatic cancers are of one type, adenocarcinoma, and affect the head of the pancreas.  The pancreas is anatomically divided into 3 regions; the head, body, and tail.

The average ago of diagnosis is in the mid-fifties. Men are nearly 2x more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women.

A tumor in the body and tail of the pancreas usually has no symptoms until the tumor is very large. Symptoms if and when they do appear are typically upper abdominal pain and weight loss, sometimes severe.

The pancreatic tumor symptoms from a cancer in the head of the pancreas are typically jaundice and full body itchiness.

Pancreatic cancer symptoms:

  • jaundice
  • full body skin itchiness
  • vomiting
  • upper abdominal pain
  • weight loss

Diagnosis is typically confirmed by biopsy and computed tomography (CT) imaging scan.

Since pancreatic tumors of the body and tail of the pancreas are generally diagnosed very late in the progression of the disease, prognosis is very poor. Less than 2% of people survive beyond 5 years of diagnosis.

Treatment is surgical, and can be accompanied by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Due to the very poor prognosis for individuals with pancreatic cancer, pain relief is an essential part of treatment to ensure the highest quality of remaining lifespan. Alleviation of other pancreatic tumor symptoms is also key.

The famous actor Patrick Swayze died on Monday 14 September 2009, at the age of 57 due to Pancreatic Cancer. “Swayze said although the pain was present, he chose not to use painkillers while making “The Beast”, because they would have taken the edge off his performance. ” – CHRISTY LEMIRE, AP Movie Writer

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