Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is sometimes called a “silent cancer” because the early symptoms are often vague and unrecognised. It is only later, when more specific symptoms arise, that patients and doctors consider pancreatic cancer as a possibility, by which time it is often too late for surgery that could cure the cancer.
Classic pancreatic cancer symptoms can include:
- Painless jaundice (yellow skin/eyes, dark urine). This is related to bile duct obstruction
- Weight loss which is significant and unexplained
- Abdominal pain which is new-onset and significant
Other possible symptoms of pancreatic cancer:
- Pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to the back which is new, significant and persistent that is relieved by leaning forward
- Back pain
- Diabetes which is new-onset and not associated with weight gain
- Vague dyspepsia or abdominal discomfort (not responding to prescribed medication)
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain when eating
- Steatorrhea (fatty stools that are often pale and smell foul)
Not everyone will have all of these symptoms. For example, those who have a tumour in the body or tail of the pancreas are unlikely to have painless jaundice.
All of these symptoms can have other causes, and there is not yet a reliable and easy test for pancreatic cancer.
If you regularly experience ONE OR MORE of these symptoms which are NOT NORMAL FOR YOU, DO NOT IGNORE THEM, contact your GP straight away.
Keep track of any symptoms you may be experiencing with our symptom diary – click on the link to download a copy.
Contact the NHS 111 Service
For general health information as well as information on pancreatic cancer, visit NHS Choices
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Information Product No. PCA0011 pgs 10-11 | Published: 20/10/2012 | Last Updated: 07/05/2014 | Next Review Due: 07/05/2017