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Symptoms and Complications of Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen, which lies behind the lower part of the stomach. This organ releases enzyme that helps in digestion and functions in producing hormones that help to manage the blood sugar level in the body. The abnormal change in the tissues of the pancreas can result in pancreatic cancer.

This type of cancer spreads fast and a poor prognosis, and is often detected late. Though the actual cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown, there are certain risk factors that can strongly related to this disease.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

There are several signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer that can often occur till the disease reaches its advanced stage. This includes:

  • Blood clots

  • Light-colored stools

  • Abdominal pain that radiates to your back

  • Itchy skin

  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss

  • New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that's becoming more difficult to control

  • Dark-colored urine

Complications of pancreatic Cancer

There are some complications that can arise with the progression of pancreatic cancer. It includes:

Weight loss

There are certain factors that may lead to weight loss in people who are suffering from pancreatic cancer. Weight loss might occur as a result of the consumption of the body’s energy by the cancer cells.

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to eat because the tumor gets pressed on your stomach or due to vomiting and nausea during the cancer treatments. Besides, the body might have difficulty in processing the nutrients from food as the pancreas is unable to produce enough digestive juices.


People who have pancreatic cancer often suffer from jaundice as the liver’s bile duct gets blocked. Its signs include pale-colored stools, dark-colored urine, and yellow skin and eyes. Usually, jaundice occurs without causing abdominal pain.

At times like this, the doctor might recommend placing a plastic or metal tube inside the bile duct to hold it open. This can be done with the help of a process called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

During this process, an endoscope is passed down the throat, through the stomach, and into the upper part of the small intestine. Then, a dye is injected into the pancreas and bile ducts through a small hollow tube called a catheter, which is passed through the endoscope. Finally, the images of the ducts are taken.


The pain caused due to the growing tumor that might press on the nerves in your abdomen can make the condition severe. Pain medications can assist to make the patient more comfortable. Treatments like radiation and chemotherapy might help to slow down the tumor growth and provide some relief from the pain.

For some severe cases, the doctor might suggest the procedure in which alcohol is injected into the nerves that aids to control the pain in the abdomen. This process helps to stop the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain.


Pancreatic cancer is curable if it is treated from an early stage. There are two types of surgery – pancreatectomy or Whipple procedure, which aids to remove a part or all of the pancreas. Besides, it will help to eliminate the initial cancer tumor

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