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.

  1. Pancreatic cancer is deadly because it is usually found in the late stages
  2. Pancreatic cancer disguises itself as many other issues, don’t wait to get tested
  3. Just because you have these symptoms doesn’t mean you have pancreatic cancer
  4. You can have only one or two of these symptoms and have cancer
  5. You can feel better for long periods of time and you can 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.


What Tests Find Pancreatic Cancer?

My sister, Lizzy had several tests, to include but not limited to:

  • Ultrasound
  • Endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Bloodwork

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 get sent through a tube for a few seconds and the scan is done.  I’ve had two.  The “problem” with this scan is that if you have too many, you “could get cancer.”

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)

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.  However, no one ever offered this test to Lizzy and my understanding is that it is not 100% accurate.  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 of them.  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 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 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.


Contact Us

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, contact leave a comment for me or contact me via email and let me know.