Olivia Williams discusses ‘bizarre’ symptom of pancreatic cancer
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Cancer Research UK says almost seven out of 10 people with pancreatic cancer go to their doctors because they have pain. It explains: “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.”
The charity says that some people may only have back pain, which is often felt in the middle of the back, and is persistent.
It adds: “Many people with pancreatic cancer have jaundice when they first go to their doctors. Most of them will have pain as well.”
Cancer Research explains jaundice is yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, and around 10 in 100 people with pancreatic cancer have painless jaundice.
It 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.”
The NHS says other symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:
- A high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery
- Feeling or being sick
- Diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo
- Symptoms of indigestion, such as feeling bloated
The health body says: “If you have another condition like irritable bowel syndrome you may get symptoms like these regularly.
“You might find you get used to them. But it’s important to be checked by a GP if your symptoms change, get worse, or do not feel normal for you.”
The Mayo Clinic says: “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, the organisation says pancreatic cancer is seldom detected at its early stages when it’s most curable. It says this is because it often doesn’t cause symptoms until after it has spread to other organs.
It states: “See your doctor if you experience any unexplained symptoms that worry you. Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so your doctor may check for these conditions as well as for pancreatic cancer.”
The Mayo Clinic states: “It’s not clear what causes pancreatic cancer. Doctors have identified some factors that may increase the risk of this type of cancer, including smoking and having certain inherited gene mutations.”
The NHS also notes that the causes of cancer are complex and it may be caused by a variety of things, including your genetic make-up and lifestyle choices, such as smoking.
It explains: “Although scientists now know more about the causes of cancer, we still need more research.
“We don’t properly understand exactly what causes pancreatic cancer, although we do know some risk factors. A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease.”
The health body says there is good evidence that age, smoking, being overweight, a family history of pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis, and diabetes may increase your risk of pancreatic cancer.
It notes the risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age, as it does for many cancers.
In the UK, more than nine out of ten people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are aged over 50.
Research also shows that being overweight increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, and around one in ten pancreatic cancers may be caused by being overweight or obese.
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