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Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

With pancreatic cancer, symptoms rarely develop in the early stages of the disease; however, symptoms may occur as the cancer grows and spreads. Common symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include pain in the upper abdomen or upper back, jaundice, weakness, and loss of appetite.

An Introduction to Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Pancreatic cancer usually begins in the ducts that carry the pancreatic juices. When cancer cells begin to grow, they tend to spread (metastasize) more deeply into the pancreas and other surrounding areas (such as the lymph nodes, the liver, and the lungs). When this occurs, the new tumor will have the same kind of abnormal cells as the primary tumor that is in the pancreas.
In this eMedTV article, the term "pancreatic cancer" refers to cancer that begins in the ducts that carry pancreatic juices (exocrine cells).
(Click Pancreatic Islet Cell Cancer for information about symptoms often associated with a less common form of pancreatic cancer.)

Early Signs or Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is sometimes called a silent disease because most people with the disease do not experience any early signs or symptoms of pancreatic cancer. It is important to note that pain is not normally an early symptom; people should not to wait to feel pain to see their healthcare provider.

Possible Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may develop as the cancer grows and metastasizes. Some of these possible symptoms can include:
  • Pain in the upper abdomen (stomach) or upper back
  • Yellow skin and eyes, and dark urine from jaundice
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss.
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