The pancreas is the organ that is responsible for delivering enzymes to the body that are essential for digesting food and metabolizing sugar. Cancer of the pancreas occurs when the tissues of the organ are overtaken by harmful tumors that inhibit the way the pancreas functions. Even when pancreatic cancer is detected early, the patient’s health is still in serious jeopardy. This is because the cancer spreads through the body very quickly, making it the fourth most common reason for cancer-related death in the United States.
It is important to recognize the symptoms of pancreatic cancer early to increase the chances of effective treatment and survival as much as possible. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is often not diagnosed early as symptoms are frequently nonspecific. However, here are a few symptoms to look for, particularly for individuals who have a family history of cancer:
Jaundice is when the whites of the eyes and the skin develop a yellow tint. This is due to malnutrition and is a sign that the pancreas is not properly aiding in the digestion process. Jaundice that is persistent and does not go away when more nutrients are added to the diet could indicate pancreatic cancer.
When the pancreas is not secreting the enzymes necessary to process food and provide the body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to function, noticeable weight loss may occur. A person with pancreatic cancer may lose weight even when eating a balanced diet that is full of sufficient healthy fats and proteins.
Loss of Appetite
While some pancreatic cancer patients will lose weight even when they are eating well, some individuals lose the desire to eat much at all. When a person does not want to eat any meals during the day, will only eat small amounts of food, or is content to go days without consuming food, this could be a sign of pancreatic cancer, especially when coupled with a symptom like jaundice.
Pain in the upper abdomen may also indicate pancreatic cancer. This could be a sign that the pancreas is working hard to do its job but is inhibited by tumors. It could also be a sign that the pancreas is unable to regenerate healthy cells. This pain may also spread to the back. The pain can be sharp and alarming or steady and uncomfortable throughout the day.
Since the body is not able to properly digest food during pancreatic cancer, this causes the intestines and the rest of the digestive system to work slowly. When impurities are left in the body for long periods of time, this leads to sluggishness and fatigue, and depression can result. When a person experiences depression due to pancreatic cancer, they will likely lose interest in regular activities and need to rest several times a day. Moodiness, anxiety, and intense feelings of sadness are also depression symptoms.
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