Change in bowel habit

A change in the way you poo may be a symptom of pancreatic cancer.

What is it?

People with pancreatic cancer sometimes experience constipation (when your stools are very firm and difficult to push out, sometimes accompanied by stomach pain) or diarrhoea (passing of watery stools more than 3 times a day). Stools can also be large, pale, smelly and float. This is because there is too much fat in the stool as food is not digested properly.

How do I know if I have this?

Constipation and diarrhoea are quite common. However, if a change in your bowels keeps happening or lasts longer than a week, discuss this with your GP. It does not mean you have pancreatic cancer and your GP may be able to resolve your symptoms easily.

What should I do if I am experiencing upper abdominal pain or discomfort?

If you regularly experience one or more of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer which are not normal for you, do not ignore them, contact your GP straight away or call NHS 111 to investigate.

COVID-19 update: Although GP practices may be changing the way that they run appointments or interact with you, they are still available for you and it is vital that you still contact them if you have any of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Read more.

Symptoms diary

Keeping track of any symptoms you may be experiencing can be useful when discussing them with your GP.

Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer

It is important to remember that the symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be caused by many different conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome or indigestion, and aren’t usually the result of cancer.

You may not have all of the symptoms and they may come and go a vary in severity. Find out more about the different symptoms of pancreatic cancer: