Pancreatic cancer symptoms
Early-stage pancreatic cancer rarely causes obvious symptoms. Symptoms may not appear until the cancer is large enough to affect nearby organs or has spread.
The first symptom of pancreatic cancer is often jaundice. Signs of jaundice may include yellowish skin and eyes, dark urine, pale bowel motions and itchy skin. Jaundice is caused by the build-up of bilirubin, a dark yellow-brown substance found in bile. Bilirubin can build up if pancreatic cancer blocks the common bile duct.
Other common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
- 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 (poo) that are difficult to flush away
- newly diagnosed diabetes
- fatigue (feeling very tired).
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.
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Dr Benjamin Loveday, Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) Surgeon, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Palliative Medicine Physician, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Hollie Bevans, Senior Dietitian, Radiotherapy and Oncology, Western Health, VIC; Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Head of Department Medical Oncology, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, NSW; Amanda Maxwell, Consumer; Prof Michael Michael, Medical Oncologist, Lower and Upper GI Oncology Service, Co-Chair Neuroendocrine Unit, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and University of Melbourne, VIC; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Meg Rogers, Nurse Consultant Upper GI/NET Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Ady Sipthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA.
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