Pancreatic cancer can begin to present symptoms when the tumour is growing. There's one common sign in the stomach that you may have the disease. W
Pancreatic cancer can begin to present symptoms when the tumour is growing. There’s one common sign in the stomach that you may have the disease. What is it?
The charity Cancer Research UK notes that most people experience a “dull pain” that can begin in the stomach area.
Eventually, the pain could travel around to the back. The pain is noticeably worse when you lie down and is better when sitting forward.
Additionally, the stomach pain could be worse after eating. Suffering from stomach pain is indicative that the cancer is the body and tail of the pancreas.
To gain a better understanding of what this means, it helps to know more about the anatomy of the pancreas.
Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that the right side of the organ is the widest part, known as the head.
The tapered left side is called the body of the pancreas and the end of the pancreas is called the tail.
LiveScience describes the abdominal organ to reach about six inches lengthwise, and it’s located behind the stomach.
READ MORE: High blood pressure – the vegetable you should avoid or risk deadly hypertension
Its function is to create enzymes to digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the intestines – playing an important role in digestion.
Additionally, the pancreas is responsible for producing the hormone insulin – necessary for blood sugar control.
Aside from stomach pain, other symptoms of pancreatic cancer include jaundice – yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes – and unexplained weight loss.
In jaundice, urine is darker than normal and stools may be lighter in colour.
Jaundice typically occurs more often when there’s cancer in the head of the pancreas.
This is because the cancer blocks the bile duct, the tube responsible for carrying bile into the small bowel.
When the bile duct is blocked by cancer, the bile ends up in the bloodstream and urine – and it may lead to itchiness of the skin.
Bile contains a lot of yellow pigments, hence why it can turn the skin and whites of the eyes yellow.
If you’re worried you may have any of these symptoms, write them down so you can discuss them with your doctor.
Take note when the symptoms begin, when they happen and how often you experience them.
Do detail if anything makes symptoms particularly worse or better, and tell your GP if you’re concerned about cancer in particular.
Also mention if you have any family history of cancer, and be prepared that you may be examined then and there.