November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Around 10,500 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year[i]. In this blog, Content Channel Editor Tania, talks about some of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
What is the pancreas?
The pancreas is part of the digestive system. It makes digestive juices called enzymes, and hormones including insulin. Hormones act as chemical messengers in the body. They control how different organs work.
There are different types of pancreatic cancer. These are described based on:· where they are in the pancreas· the type of cell they start from. Cancer can happen in any part of the pancreas. But around 6 out of 10 pancreatic cancers (60%) start in the head of the pancreas. What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?
While pancreatic cancer may not cause symptoms for a long time, it is important to be aware of what these are so you can get any possible symptoms checked by your doctor as soon as possible.
These are some of the possible symptoms to be aware of:
Jaundice may be caused by several conditions. Pancreatic cancer is not the most common cause of jaundice. Other conditions that affect the liver and bile duct, are more common.
These symptoms can be caused by other conditions. But it is important to have them checked by your GP as soon as you can.
If your GP thinks your symptoms could be caused by cancer, they will refer you to a specialist doctor at a hospital. At the hospital you will have more tests to find out the cause of your symptoms and how they can be treated.
If you are aged 40 or older and have jaundice, you should see a specialist within 2 weeks.
If you are aged 60 or older, your doctor may refer you urgently. They may arrange an urgent CT scan or ultrasound within 2 weeks.
More information and support
We understand that showing any symptoms that may be a sign of cancer is worrying. The most important thing is to speak to your GP as soon as possible. We are also here if you need someone to talk to. You can:
Pancreatic Cancer UK also provides information and support to people affected by pancreatic cancer.
I was seen by a trainee Dr at my doctors surgery and she diagnosed me, got bloods taken (after consultation with senior doctor) and I was admitted that night into hospital for further tests etc. So glad I rang up for an appointment and managed to get a face to face appointment. Couldn’t have surgery as cancer had spread but started chemo next week with the aim of shrinking the tumour that is on a vein and then could have Whipple surgery if Consultant thinks it’s possible. Just have to try to be positive and get on with each day and hopefully will get some quality time with my partner..