Get to know the symptoms of pancreatic cancer - OOKINFO
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6/05/2019

Get to know the symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that often appears without obvious symptoms. The absence of obvious symptoms in the early stages and the rapid spread of cancer cells to other organs makes pancreatic cancer very dangerous.

The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach. This organ functions to produce the hormone insulin which regulates blood sugar (endocrine function) and produces digestive enzymes to break down food in the intestine (exocrine function). Pancreatic cancer occurs when pancreatic cells grow uncontrollably due to changes in genetic traits.


Patients with pancreatic cancer have the lowest life expectancy compared to other types of cancer patients, ie less than 4%. This is because the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are not specific, so it is usually only detected when it has spread.

Getting to know and be aware of symptoms of pancreatic cancer can help detect this disease earlier so that treatment can be given as early as possible.
 

Symptoms of Exocrine Pancreatic Cancer


Here are some symptoms of pancreatic cancer that attacks the exocrine part of the pancreas:
 

1. Jaundice ( jaundice )


Jaundice or jaundice is a yellowish skin or eye condition due to increased bilirubin. Bilirubin is a brownish-yellow substance produced by the liver and flowed into the intestine as a bile sap. Its function is to digest fat.

Pancreatic cancer, especially if it is located in the head of the pancreas that is close to the gallbladder, can suppress the bile duct and block the flow of bilirubin to the intestine.

As a result, bilirubin accumulates and makes the skin color or eyes turn yellowish. Jaundice is the most important symptom of pancreatic cancer.
 

2. Abdominal pain


About 70-80% of patients with pancreatic cancer experience abdominal pain in the area near the stomach or solar plexus. Pain can be felt through to the back or to the waist, and usually improves by bending the body forward. This pain is caused by cancer that grows bigger and suppresses the organs and nerves around it.


3. Pale, oily stools


The blocked flow of bilirubin into the intestine makes the stool not get enough dye, so it becomes paler. The lack of bile sap to digest fat in the intestine also makes the stool more oily.
 

4. Darker colored urine


Increased bilirubin in the bloodstream can enter the urine and make it darker in color.
 

5. Itchy skin


Increased levels of bilirubin will make the skin yellowish, and if the levels are very high, the skin will feel itchy.
 

6. Nausea, vomiting, decreased weight, and weakness


These symptoms are interconnected. Pancreatic cancer can suppress the stomach or duodenum, thus inhibiting the flow of food and causing nausea or vomiting.

In addition, pancreatic cancer can interfere with the production of digestive enzymes, so that food digestion is disrupted and appetite decreases. Over time, this condition will cause weight loss and make the body feel weak.
 

Symptoms of Endocrine Pancreatic Cancer


Enlargement of cancer that occurs in hormone-producing tissues (endocrine glands) in the pancreas can suppress the surrounding organs. This type of pancreatic cancer has the same symptoms as exocrine pancreatic cancer.
But in addition, endocrine cells can release hormones into the bloodstream, causing symptoms that vary depending on the type of cancer, namely:

Gastrinoma


Cancer of the cell producing the hormone gastrin will stimulate the stomach to produce more stomach acid. As a result, patients can experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, stomach ulcers, and gastric bleeding, so the stool is black.
 

Glucagonoma


This type of cancer produces excessive glucagon hormones, which increases blood sugar. As a result, symptoms of diabetes appear, such as thirst, constant hunger, and often feel like urinating. In addition, a rash on the skin can also appear.
 

Insulinoma


This cancer produces the hormone insulin. As a result, the patient's blood sugar levels can drop dramatically and make him feel dizzy, weak, cold sweats, fast heartbeat, or even fainting.

Experiencing one or more of the symptoms above does not mean a person must have pancreatic cancer. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer are non-specific, which means they can also appear in other diseases, such as cuts in the stomach or inflammation of the pancreas.

Therefore, if you experience symptoms that can lead to pancreatic cancer, you should immediately see a doctor. Through consultation, physical examination, and investigations, such as CT scans, MRI, ultrasound, endoscopy, blood tests, and biopsies, doctors can make a diagnosis and determine whether these symptoms are symptoms of pancreatic cancer or not.

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