Pancreatic Cancer: 10 Early Symptoms You Should Not Ignore
Pancreatic cancer is broadly divided into 2 categories. It develops from the cells of a digestive organ called the pancreas. Severe abdomen pain is the common symptom in pancreatic cancer. know other symptoms.
Pancreatic cancer can lead to severe abdomen pain and loss of appetite
- Family history puts you at a higher risk of pancreatic cancer
- Symptoms of pancreatic cancer are similar to stomach infection
- Long-standing diabetes also increases pancreatic cancer risk
Having to face life-threatening diseases like cancer can be devastating for people. Going through the pain, psychological impact and the stigma associated with cancer needs a lot of support to deal with. However, diagnosing any kind of cancer in its early stage can help in effective treatment. Pancreatic cancer is one such cancer which needs early detection and treatment to treat it effectively. Being the 11th most widely prevalent cancer in India, pancreatic cancer has an extremely low survival rate if undetected and untreated at the initial stage.
Pancreatic cancer develops from the cells of a digestive organ called the pancreas. It is broadly divided into 2 categories. Cancer originating from endocrine pancreas are called as the pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours and cancer originating from exocrine pancreas are islet cancers. The second type is rare and grows slowly when compared to the endocrine pancreatic cancers. The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown. Cells begin to grow abnormally within the pancreas and forms tumour. Chronic pancreatitis, an inflammation in the pancreases can also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer: Know symptoms and the importance of early detection
What are the facts you need to know for early detection?
There are no prescribed steps to keep pancreatic cancer away. But you can follow certain steps and be aware of the facts about this deadly disease to detect it in its early stages when the recovery rate is high. Severe abdomen pain is the common symptom in pancreatic cancer.
Some of the early warning signs of pancreatic cancer are:
- Pain in the abdomen or back
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Onset of diabetes
- Changes in the stool
- Irregular heartbeat
Pancreatic cancer is hard to find
The precise location of the pancreas, deep inside the body makes it hard to identify early tumours which are otherwise detected by healthcare providers during routine physical examinations. Another reason for the delayed detection is that the symptoms of pancreatic cancer do not show until cancer has spread to other organs and has grown large. Therefore, pancreatic cancer needs to be detected in its early stages when it is most curable. Curing pancreatic cancer becomes difficult in its advanced stages making it a silent killer.
Who are at high risk for pancreatic cancer?
If you are a first-degree relative of a family member diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, then you have higher chances of developing pancreatic cancer.
Some of the common factors that increases the risk for pancreatic cancer are:
- Long-standing diabetes
- More consumption of red and processed meat
- Chronic and hereditary pancreatitis
- Old age
These symptoms are quite similar to other infections and disorders. So, if patients are experiencing these symptoms very often, they should immediately consult a doctor. For example, loss of appetite, indigestion and nausea are common in people with pancreatic cancer and this could be because of the presence of tumours in the pancreas, which press against the stomach.
Smarter diagnostic tools are available to help map cancers better and help to find whether the disease is localised or has spread to other regions. Minimally invasive procedures like endoscopic ultrasound, cholangioscopy help doctors to detect cancer at the early stage and also give a definitive diagnosis for pancreatic cancer.
Maintaining a good health is very crucial. Therefore, consult your doctor as soon as you observe any kind of symptoms. Hospitals are safe to visit and they are taking all necessary precautions for patients' safety.
(Dr. Govind Nandakumar, Chief of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur)
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