The pancreas has two major functions: It produces the hormones insulin and glucagon to regulate blood sugar levels, and it also produces enzymes that help in digestion.
Pancreatic cancer usually doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. As a tumor grows, it may begin to push against adjacent organs and nerves. At this point, you may start to experience some of these signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
- The most common symptom of pancreatic cancer is a yellowish discolouration of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice). This happens when a tumour blocks the bile duct so that bile cannot flow from the liver to help digest food. This can also give your urine a darker colour than normal, and your stools (poo) may become pale or grey. Jaundice is caused by other conditions besides pancreatic cancer, such as gallstones or inflammation of the pancreas. But if you have jaundice and any other symptoms described here, see your doctor as soon as possible.
- Pain in the upper abdomen and back. Pain can be caused by tumors blocking or pushing on other structures in the abdomen or by inflammation of tissues surrounding the pancreas.
- Weight loss for no known reason. The pancreas plays an important role in digestion, so if it is not working normally, your digestive process will be affected. Loss of appetite and weight loss often result from this.
- Nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting may occur when pancreatic cancer blocks parts of the digestive tract. Also, chemicals secreted by a tumor can cause nausea and vomiting.
- Loss of appetite. Anorexia is common with any type of cancer because cancer cells use up so much of your body’s energy supply that there is little left over for you to use for eating, drinking, or even enjoying life.