Pancreatic cancer symptoms

by Kate Brodock on 30 October 2011

Posted in: Company News,From the Field,Interviews,Newsworthy

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How to Spot the Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer in Men

Relying on checkups and tests such as colonoscopies alone to detect the early symptoms of pancreatic cancer in men is not a good idea, and may prove fatal. According to the National Cancer Institute (, the median age of men diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is 73 years of age, accounting for 25.8% of all diagnosed cases. Pancreatic cancer is the number four cancer illness behind breast, colon, and prostate cancers in terms of mortality rates. While accounting for only 2% of diagnosed cancer cases, pancreatic cancer is responsible for more than 5% of all cancer fatalities. As these statistics show, the key to survivability for those afflicted is the prompt detection of early symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

The Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins University ( points to DNA mutations as the cause of pancreatic cancer. The center points out several ways in which the DNA sustains damage that may lead to the development of pancreatic cancer: genetically-inherited mutations, behavior related damage, or incidental damage occurring as a part of normal cell activity.

Genetically, we inherit two copies of each gene in our bodies, one copy from mom and one copy from dad. symptoms of pancreatic cancer Sometimes one of those copies may be mutated at birth. During our lifetime, we many damage the other, leaving us with two damaged copies of the same cell which will then develop into cancer. While this does not guarantee that those inheriting genetically-damaged genes will develop the disease, it significantly increases the chances of the event occurring.

Behaviorally, the carcinogens in cigarette smoke can damage DNA. If the carcinogens damage a key cancer-associated gene, then the cell may grow into a cancer. Additionally, the symptoms of other smoking-related conditions like the loss of appetite and weight loss mimic the early symptoms of pancreatic cancer, leading to higher instances of delayed diagnoses after pancreatic cancer stage 4 symptoms begin to appear.

Incidental damage to DNA occurs during normal cell division within the body. As humans procreate, cell division occurs in order to produce copies of our human selves in the form of our children. Occasionally, a cancer-associated gene will be copied with errors and result in the development of cancer cells.

Unfortunately, there are not definite early symptoms of pancreatic cancer as any symptoms often mimic many common ailments and conditions not readily noticed by patients. The best option for early detection is performance of an endoscopic ultrasound which can facilitate detection of pancreatic cancer in its formative stages. This tool has eclipsed the ubiquitous CT scan, which is only possible of detecting pancreatic cancer in later stages, and often is not performed until pancreatic cancer stage 4 symptoms are apparent. Pancreatic cancer stage 4 symptoms as listed on pancreatic– include:

? abdominal pain or back pain. Pain in the abdomen or in the back associated with pancreatic cancer by a tumor(s) that has grown large enough to push against surrounding organs

? anorexia (loss of appetite and weight loss). Weight loss, common to pancreatic cancer symptoms in women all forms of cancer, occurs as cancer cells compete with normal cells for the body’s nutrients. Also, tumors that are present will work to restrict digestion.

? fever and chills. Obstruction of bile ducts which can lead to infection is common during the advanced stages of the disease. Fever and/or chills are a result of the body’s immune response to infections.

? itchiness. Again, obstruction of the bile ducts can result in severe itching sensations across the body.

? jaundice. Visible yellowing of the eyes and skin and claying of the stool will occur as tumor(s) grow into the head of the pancreas and block bile ducts, preventing bile from entering the digestive tract.

? urine discoloration. Accumulation of bile in the urine will darken the color of the urine. This symptom is often mistaken for dehydration.

Because pancreatic cancer is so difficult to detect in its early stages, symptoms of pancreatic cancer in women it is important for men in risk groups to be proactive and engage in active checkups which pointedly seek out indications of pancreatic cancer. Those with a history of pancreatic cancer in their families or those who smoke regularly must be mindful that any symptoms that present themselves will only do so after the disease has become intractable. At this stage, the five-year survival rate is less than 1% as opposed to between 18-24% if detected early.

Sources: Description: Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer. Silent, that is, until its victim is firmly within its grasp. Early

symptoms of pancreatic cancer in men are nonexistent. The disease is virtually indistinguishable from other common ailments until the onslaught of pancreatic cancer stage 4 symptoms. By that time, the disease is almost always fatal. The best defense is self-awareness of one’s own risk level and implementation of a proactive system of evaluation to detect internal symptoms of pancreatic cancer in men.

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