Signs & Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic Cancer 101
Before we list the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, I want to discuss a few of things you need to know first.
- Pancreatic cancer is deadly because it is usually found in the late stages.
- Pancreatic cancer disguises itself as many other issues
- You can have only one or two of these symptoms and have cancer
- You can feel better for long periods of time and have cancer
- You can take over the counter medications that help you to feel better and have cancer
The only way to know if you have cancer or not is to get tested. The sooner you get tested, the greater the chances of survival. Do not delay.
What Tests Find Pancreatic Cancer?
My sister, Lizzy had several tests, to include but not limited to:
None of these tests found the cancer, even after she complained that she felt a tumor in her stomach.
CT Scan with Oral and IV Contrast
To my knowledge, the only test that is 100% is a CT Scan with Oral and IV Contrast. In this test you drink a liquid with a dye, then, the nurse will give you an intravenious injection of another dye. You lay down on a table that moves you through a tube. After a few seconds and the scan is done. The problem with this scan is that it “could cause cancer,” so you should not have this test frequently.
There are pros and cons about this test and you should do more research if you are concerned. But, I can tell you that Lizzy was given a CT Scan without contrast in 2017 and it did not find the cancer. It wasn’t until she got the CT Scan with the Contrast Dye that they finally found the tumor…and the lesions on her liver.
MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography)
I just found out about this one a few months ago from a subscirber. If you are concerned about radiation exposure, this may be the test for you. An MCRP scan is not as invasive as the CT Scan above, so it is considered to be safer. I have also heard that although it is very reliable, it is not 100% accurate whereas a CT Scan with Contrast WILL find a cancer. Here is a good article on the MRCP and how it is used.
I wouldn’t trust any test other than these ones for pancreatic cancer, period.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
This is the list of Early Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer. Your doctor may not be aware that these symptoms are consistent with pancreatic cancer. If you have any of these symptoms or have had them in the past, contact your doctor immediately.
- Green stools (poop)
- Stools that float
- Feeling constipated, but stools are soft
- Oil rings in the toilet water after a bowel movement
- Unusual amount of bowel movements per day
- Stomach cramps that come and go with no explanation
- Back pain (feels like nerve pain or someone squeezing the ribs very hard)
- Inability to sleep due to back pain or stomach pain
- Nausea (for no apparent reason or due to pain)
- Loss of appetite or the sudden feeling of fullness after a few bites
- Unintentional weight loss
- Inability to eat solid food (you have changed your diet to soft foods because that is all you can digest)
- Yellowing of eyes/skin (jaundice due to bile duct blockage)
- Acid reflux, GERD or silent reflux diagnosis
- Passing abnormal amounts of gas
- Smell of gas being passed is often so bad, you can’t be around others
- Inability to eat foods you normally eat, such as those containing acid, vinegar, spices, or pectin
- Feeling a lump or TUMOR in your stomach, will be just below the rib cage and you MAY FEEL IT MOVE
Other Cancer Risks
If you have had cancer or if pancreatic cancer runs in your family, you are at greater risk.
If a near relative has or has died of pancreatic cancer, you are at greater risk.
The following can increase your chances of getting cancer:
- Smoking of any kind
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Eating unhealthy foods on a regular basis
- You are overweight or obese
If a family member has had pancreatic cancer, you can request a DNA check for the BRCA gene. I had this test done and it was covered by my insurance.
These are the signs and symptoms that my sister suffered from for years, yet the doctors didn’t test her.
Remember, you can be male or female, 12 or 70 years old, thin or heavy, smoker or not, drink alcohol or not, and have pancreatic or another gastric cancer.
If you have ANY of these symptoms, CALL YOUR DOCTOR TODAY and set up an appointment. If your doctor refuses to check for cancer, get a second opinion immediately. Do not rest until you know if you have cancer.
If you or someone you know has had pancreatic cancer and they had a different symptom, please, leave a comment or contact us via email.
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Together we can #StopPancreaticCancer from getting into the advanced stages and from taking the lives of those we love.