Pancreatic cancer symptoms
Early-stage pancreatic cancer rarely causes symptoms. Symptoms may not appear until the cancer is large enough to affect nearby organs or has spread.
Common symptoms are:
- jaundice – yellowish skin and eyes, dark urine, pale bowel motions and itchy skin
- indigestion (heartburn)
- appetite loss
- nausea with or without vomiting
- unexplained weight loss
- pain in the upper abdomen, side or back, which may cause you to wake up at night
- changed bowel motions – including diarrhoea, severe constipation, or pale, oily, foul-smelling stools that are difficult to flush away
- newly diagnosed diabetes
These symptoms can also occur in many other conditions and do not necessarily mean that you have cancer. Speak with your general practitioner (GP) if you have any of these symptoms.
My symptoms started with itchy skin. After a few days I was jaundiced and had dark-coloured urine and back pain.
Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Head of Department, Medical Oncology, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, NSW; Marion Bamblett, Nurse Unit Manager, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director of Palliative Care, Northern Sydney Local Health District Cancer and Palliative Care Network, and Conjoint Professor, Northern Clinical School, The University of Sydney, NSW; Lynda Dunstone, Consumer; Kate Graham, Accredited Practising Dietitian – Upper GI Dietitian, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Gina Hesselberg, Radiation Oncologist, St George Hospital Cancer Centre, NSW; Dr Marni Nenke, Endocrinologist and Mary Overton Early Career Research Fellow, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital and The University of Queensland, QLD; Rose Rocca, Senior Clinical Dietitian – Upper GI, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Gail Smith, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.