Pancreatic cancer symptoms: Bowel changes which may occur ‘if your pancreatic duct blocks’

Olivia Williams discusses ‘bizarre’ symptom of pancreatic cancer

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The Mayo Clinic explains: “Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produces hormones that help manage your blood sugar. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is seldom detected at its early stages when it’s most curable.

Cancer Research UK says if your pancreatic duct blocks, you might develop a symptom called steatorrhoea. It explains this means fatty stools (poo).

“You may pass frequent, large bowel motions that are pale coloured and smelly, and are difficult to flush away.

“These bowel disturbances can mean that you are not absorbing your food properly. This can also cause weight loss,” it says.

The charity says people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer might have recently lost a lot of weight, at least 10 percent of their total body weight, for no apparent reason. This symptom is more common in cancers of the head of the pancreas.

It adds that almost seven out of 10 people with pancreatic cancer go to their doctors because they have pain.

The charity says: “Pain is more common in cancers of the body and tail of the pancreas. People describe it as a dull pain that feels as if it is boring into you. It can begin in the stomach area and spread around to the back.

“The pain is worse when you lie down and is better if you sit forward. It can be worse after meals.

“Some people may only have back pain. This is often felt in the middle of the back, and is persistent.”

The charity says many people with pancreatic cancer have jaundice when they first go to their doctors.

It explains: “Bile contains a lot of yellow pigments so it turns the skin yellow. This may be less noticeable in black or brown skin. It is often easier to spot in the whites of the eyes rather than the skin.”

Cancer Research states: “Endocrine pancreatic tumours are uncommon. They are also called neuroendocrine tumours.

“Most pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours don’t produce hormones so don’t cause specific symptoms.”

It adds: “Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours that produce hormones are called functional tumours.

“The symptoms are different for each type, depending on the hormone the tumour produces.”

Some lifestyle factors and certain medical conditions can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

For example, around 20 out of 100 cases of pancreatic cancer in the UK are caused by smoking.

Although it is not always possible to prevent pancreatic cancer, making healthy lifestyle choices could lower your chances.

The NHS recommends losing weight if you are overweight and cutting down on alcohol and both red and processed meat.

The Mayo Clinic says: “Pancreatic cancer treatment options are chosen based on the extent of the cancer.

“Options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of these.”

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