Pancreatic cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow in the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ that lies just behind the stomach. It secretes enzymes that assist with digestion and insulin that keeps your blood sugar in check. The exocrine cells secrete digestive enzymes and the endocrine cells secrete insulin. Pancreatic cancer is most common in exocrine cells. Pancreatic cancer is a rapidly growing cancer that most of the time has a poor prognosis. Around 48,960 people in the United States are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. Out of that number, 40,560 people die from pancreatic cancer. This type of cancer is the fourth leading type of cancer death and the five-year survival rate is around 7%. This means early detection and treatment are key with this type of cancer. This article will help you understand the symptoms when to see a doctor and options for treatment.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer often do not appear until the late stages of the disease. They include:
- Severe pain in the upper abdomen that moves toward the back
- Jaundice – yellow skin
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pale and fatty stools
- Itching skin
- Dark urine
- Blood clotting
It is very important to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer early. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.