Pancreas is a very important organ in the abdomen responsible for the digestion of food and management of diabetes. It is situated deep in the abdomen and is analyzed by doing a CT scan or an MRI of the abdomen. Cancer of the pancreas is one of the most lethal cancers known to mankind. Pancreatic cancer often goes undetected for a long time and most people find out about this cancer in later stages. Hence, it gets difficult to treat in the advanced stages. According to Dr. Rajat Saha, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Max Superspeciality Hospital, Patparganj and Vaishali, in order to improve the outcomes of this disease, we must recognize some warning signs of pancreatic cancer and take early medical attention for any symptom which is persisting for 1-2 months.
What are the warning signs of cancer in the pancreas?
Here are some of the initial signs and symptoms of underlying pancreatic cancer that you should not ignore.
Recent onset Jaundice along with light coloured stools and itching all over the body.
While jaundice is common, body itching that follows raises suspicion. This is generally an early sign of cancer in the head of the pancreas. If a small growth is there, then doctors are able to conduct surgery to get rid of cancer. Else they generally place a stent through the pancreas to ease jaundice.
Pain in the upper part of the abdomen radiating to the back.
If your upper belly feels painful and it circulates to the back, it could be pancreatic cancer. This happens due to the pressure exerted by cancer on the neighbouring organs and the nerves. Pain management in pancreatic cancer is crucial.
The sensation of gastric bloating can be caused by direct pressure on the stomach or due to decreased secretion of digestive enzymes by cancer in the pancreas. If you experience this frequently, instead of popping a pill, head to the doctor and get yourself tested. Early detection of cancer can save your life.
A sudden increase in blood sugar levels
Diabetes generally either develops at an early age or in the age group of 40-60. Elevated blood sugars and development of new-onset diabetes in the elderly, especially after the age of 65 is one of the symptoms which points out to the development of pancreatic cancer and should be investigated thoroughly.
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- Significant weight loss without any dieting or physical labour. Though there are many reasons for weight loss, you should be watchful for other signs of pancreatic cancer.
- Unexplained persistent nausea/vomiting and sudden loss of appetite. If you feel nauseous for no reason and see any of the aforesaid signs, you might have pancreatic cancer.
Any patient who has developed an infection in the pancreas called pancreatitis is prone to the development of cancer and should undergo a routine examination. Nowadays with modern chemotherapy, targeted therapy and advanced surgical techniques, the treatment of pancreatic cancer has made great progress. Everything depends on the timely identification of the signs, diagnosis and right treatment. It is difficult to cure this cancer at the advanced stage, so, be vigilant and take care of your health.
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