Early Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Do not be lulled into thinking that you cannot get pancreatic cancer at a young age, if you are “healthy,” if you don’t drink nor smoke, if you don’t feel constant pain, etc. Pancreatic cancer (or any cancer) can strike at any age, gender, and even so-called healthy humans.

Pancreatic cancer symptoms come and go. You may have symptoms for a month and then feel better the next month. They come on slowly and make you think that it is all in your mind. Additionally, they often disguise themselves as something else.

Be aware of all of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer and notify your doctor immediately if you think you may be at risk.  

CT Scan WITH Oral and IV Contrast

The ONLY TEST that can 100% determine if you have this cancer is a CT scan WITH oral and Intravenous (IV) contrast. Your doctor may try to give you other tests, such as an endoscopy, colonoscopy, or a CT scan without contrast, but the only test that will not miss the cancer is a CT scan with contrast.

If you believe that you have been suffering for too long, do not delay getting this test. Insist on the CT SCAN WITH ORAL & IV CONTRAST.  

You may be given the option to get a CT scan without contrast. The problem with this test is that there is no contrast to show the cancer cell.  A radiologist may see the cancer, but he/she may also miss it.  

NOTE: Medical research shows that this test may cause cancer. I suggest that if you already have cancer or are not thrilled with being exposed to radiation, you try an alternate test. 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PANCREATIC CANCER

Doctors may diagnose you with one or several of these symptoms without giving it a second thought. They will write you a prescription for anti-acid or anxiety meds and send you home. 

If you have had even a short history of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Acid reflux
  • Indigestion
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (diagnosis)
  • Back pain (unexplained)
  • Stomach pain or cramps, usually in the upper stomach area below the sternum
  • Green stools 
  • Floating stools (they don’t sink)
  • Oily stools (oil rings in toilet water, also known as “fatty” stools)
  • Foul-smelling stools called “steatorrhea”
  • Foul-smelling gas
  • Feeling constipated, but not being constipated
  • Need to have bowel movements several times a day
  • Blood in stools
  • Nausea
  • Feeling full after only a few bites of food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Yellowing of whites of eyes (jaundice)
  • Feeling a tumor or lump in your stomach
  • Pancreatic Panniculitis.  Tender lumps, usually on the lower legs (shins), indicates a pancreas infection.

Additionally, if you have a family history of pancreatic cancer or any other cancer, you should be tested.

You should also get a DNA test for the gene that causes pancreatic cancer if it runs in your family. Ask your doctor about this test. I got one and my insurance paid for it.

ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF

If you have had the symptoms above and want to determine if you have cancer or not, contact your doctor immediately. Explain the history of your symptoms. Insist on a CT SCAN WITH ORAL & IV CONTRAST.  

Determine whether or not you have cancer before you get treatment for other ailments.  Pancreatic cancer will kill you faster than later it is discovered.  Finding it early is crucial.  Do not delay seeing a doctor and insisting on a test for cancer.

Stop Pancreatic Cancer

Lizzy and her beloved Mr Darcy, December 2018.