Pancreatic cancer today, has the highest death rates in the world and there is a reason for it. Pancreas is an organ is just 6 inches long tucked behind our stomach. Its main job is to help digest our food and control blood sugar levels. Just because this organ seamlessly functions without any fuss and apparently without any need of attention, people generally forget that it exists! But boy does it exist when it starts giving us trouble.
1 Even young people can contract pancreatic cancer
This is probably the reason that less than 2% of people worldwide are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer according to National Cancer Institute. In 2017, 43,090 Americans died of Pancreatic cancer where survival rates of the disease is just 8.2%. The disease is common over the age of 60 but younger people have also been afflicted by it too. Some of them as young as 20 or 30 years which is really alarming.
2 Pancreatic cancer has a high mortality rate
The scariest part of pancreatic cancer is its high mortality rates! It has the highest death rates of any cancer- according to a data provided by NSI, a mere 8% people survive for 5 years after the diagnosis. This diabolical discovery can be logically explained too. Pancreatic cancer is virtually impossible to detect in its initial early traceable age. According to the American Cancer Society- The organ is located so deep within our bodies that any early tumors can’t be seen or felt and by the time people do start to notice something amiss, it’s already too late. This cancer usually has spread to other organs by this time, which itself means a death warrant for the patient.
3 People ignore common symptoms
According to the experts, there is a dangerous trend in people especially in women to wait and see the doctor until the symptoms are really bad; doctors call it not just stupid because, pancreatic cancer has such high death rates, procrastinating over it is downright suicidal! To help you out of this morbid ditch the doctors have come up with the next 10 crucial symptoms of pancreatic cancer. As soon as you feel any of these symptoms, rush to emergency or your doctor soon as possible.
4 You look four months pregnant
We are not talking about the bloated feeling after a heavy meal, but if your stomach is constantly bloated out (especially in women) it can be a red flag for something really dangerous. Pancreatic tumors enlarge causing the belly to bloat up. Usually, this is the first sign women notice but they ignore it. No matter whatever is the reason you must immediately get it checked out as it necessarily might not be cancer but on an off chance it can be a sign of ovarian cancer too as their symptoms are similar. It’s always better be safe than sorry.
5 Your eyes and skin turn yellow
Yellowing of the whites of the eye is a sign of myriad of deadly maladies. It could be alcoholism, liver failure, and pancreatic cancer as well. As the pancreatic tumor usually starts developing close to the bile duct it puts pressure and obstructs this duct which carries bile from liver to the gallbladder through the pancreas to the small intestine. Then it removes the waste product of RBC called Bilirubin. Now that the bile duct is obstructed due to the tumor, excess of bilirubin causes jaundice and yellow eyes.
6 You’re unintentionally reducing weight
Among symptoms of pancreatic cancer, this is a tell-tale sign of something dangerously wrong is an alarming drop in appetite. This can lead to weight loss, which is more than 5%of your body weight in the span of six months without any obvious physical or external reason, than its time to get yourself seen by the experts…fast!
7 Your favorite dessert makes you puke
If you suddenly start developing anorexia, that is a big cause for concern. Loss of appetite is another early indicator of pancreatic cancer. That’s because as tumors grow in the abdomen they can put pressure on surrounding organs, including your stomach, The result: you feel nauseous or feel full even if you haven’t eaten in hours. Eating may even feel painful.
8 Your lower back is killing you all the time!
Yet another dangerous sign which can be easily confused by the usual menstrual cramps women are so used to dealing with that they take these persistent throbbing pains as a part and parcel of their periods. Pancreatic tumor when increases in size puts pressure on the internal organs, lower spine and back muscles causing a constant dull pain. If these pains persist days after your periods are gone then there is something sinister going on inside you and you must not wait to get it checked.
9 Your pee looks more like tea
According to the American Cancer Society dark color urine is usually the result of dehydration and also the first sign of jaundice that people do notice. Now, in the case of pancreatic cancer, the tumor causes less bile to be excreted and therefore the bilirubin count in the blood increases making the urine brown in color. If increasing your water intake still doesn’t lighten up the color, it’s high time you get yourself thoroughly checked for jaundice which is always the 1st stage of pancreatic cancer.
10 Your poop looks alien
Bilirubin is the culprit here too for your light color alien poop. According to the ACS, Bilirubin is typically excreted through your bowels as regular poop, but when there is not enough bile in your system the usual color of your feces changes and gets lighter and sticker and gross. This can also happen not just because of cancer but also due to liver disease and gastrointestinal infections which are bad news too. So if you notice any such changes in your poop it’s high time you go to the doctor.
11 Your stomach hurts without reason
No this is not just toddler complains to avoid going to school. It happens to adults too and if it happens regularly, then it’s a matter of real concern. Unspecified tummy aches for an extended period of time for no apparent reason can be the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer. The location of pancreas is such that a tumor there can cause a low-key pain no matter what you ate and it’s something to be worried about.
12 You can’t stop itching
Over itchy skin with no apparent allergy or rash is sure shot sign of jaundice or worse pancreatic cancer. As the bilirubin builds up in the body it causes severe itching before turning the skin yellow. If you cannot identify other causes such as bug bites, insect bites, or allergies that cause your itchy skin which does not respond to creams or lotions, it’s time to go to a doctor.
13 You just feel off
To catch this cancer early, we have to pay attention to mundane symptoms and rather general feeling of being under-the-weather, which if lasts more than a week or two and is not related any immediate cause such as flu or fever. Because the scariest thing about pancreatic cancer is the fact that by the time all the obvious symptoms are understood, the prognosis is always poor as stated by doctors like Anton Bilchik, M.D., Ph.D, professor of surgery and chief of gastrointestinal research at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. So pay attention to the silliest or the smallest of the bodily changes and monitor them closely to be safe always.
14 You get the chills and fever
According to John Hopkins pathology, Chills are an early warning symptom of pancreatic cancer. The biggest problem here is that such things are dismissed as the result of flu or common cold, but the trick is to identify other symptoms that you are facing to and make a correlation to pinpoint something more serious. Chills in pancreatic cancer are because of obstruction of the bile ducts or vaccine therapy.
15 Risk factors of pancreatic cancer
The risks of contracting pancreatic cancer largely depend on your diet and lifestyle habits.
• Chronic pancreas inflammation (pancreatic)
• Genetics (family history including BRCA2 mutation)
• Old age beyond 65 Studies have found that smoking along with a diabetic condition and poor diet largely increases the risk of pancreatic cancer.