How to know what your Pancreas symptoms could mean

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Pancreatic symptoms can vary based on what part of the pancreas is affected and if it has spread. The pancreas is a gland about 6 inches long that is shaped like a thin pear lying on its side. The wider end of the pancreas is called the head, the middle section is called the body, and the narrow end is called the tail. The pancreas lies behind the stomach and in front of the spine. It cannot be felt during a physical exam exam and is located behind other organs like the stomach, liver, spleen, gallbladder, and small intestine.


Your Pancreas does some amazing things for the body. You need it to live. Here are the symtoms to watch for that tell you there could be a problem.

  • Yellowing of the Skin and Eyes. Jaundice, a condition marked by the yellowing of the skin and eyes commonly occurs in people pancreatic cancer. It occurs when an increased level of bilirubin is in the blood. This can occur when a tumor completely or partially blocks bile ducts, slowing the flow of bile.

  • Abdominal Pain. Abdominal pain is common symptom of pancreatic cancer. It usually occurs on the upper abdomen and may even radiate to the back. Abdominal pain may worsen when lying down or 3 to 4 hours after eating

  • Unintended Weight Loss. While losing weight without trying may welcomed by many, but it can indicate something is wrong. Again, unintended weight loss is a common symptom of pancreatic cancer and one that is usually one of the first symptom experienced along with abdominal pain. Weight loss is common in many types of cancer and other benign conditions.

  • Nausea/Vomiting. Again, another vague symptom of pancreatic cancer that is common among many other conditions. Non-specific symptoms, like nausea, often result in a delay in a pancreatic cancer diagno

  • Loss of Appetite. Appetite loss is a symptom of hundreds of diseases and conditions, including pancreatic cancer. It can signal something severe or even be related to something as small as a stomach virus. When symptoms are vague like this, medical tests are necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.

  • Itchy Skin. Itchy skin is a less common symptom of pancreatic cancer. Again, a vague symptom, but when coupled with another symptom like abdominal pain or jaundice, it can be significant in making a more accurate, timely diagnosis. Unfortunately, when someone with undiagnosed pancreatic cancer is experiencing itchy skin, it is often misdiagnosed as a dermatological condition.

  • Unexpected Onset of Diabetes. In some cases, pancreatic cancer may impede the pancreas' ability to produce insulin, resulting in diabetes. It is important note that most people develop diabetes because of reasons unrelated to pancreatic cancer.

  • Changes in Stool and Urine Color. Urine may become much darker, while stools loser their brown color, becoming a pale, clay color. This is often due to the bile duct being blocked. Stools can also have a odd, strong smell or float if they have too high fat content.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are experiencing any of these Pancreas symptoms see your doctor. Even if they are not related to pancreatic cancer in the end, they are symptoms that do warrant a medical evaluation. More than likely, you do not have pancreatic cancer. You should know that pancreatic cancer is rare -- only 38,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed in 2008.
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