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Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms And Stages Of Pancreatic Cancer

Blog post by Faisal Ahmed/ Guest Health Expert Blogger/Speaker.

I’m someone who has a deep interest in the natural sciences, particularly in the Bio-Sciences with the emphasis on our immune system. My objective is to empower the world to stay fit and enjoy the highest quality of life I can, by making healthy choices. Please be safe!

What is the Pancreas?

The pancreas is a gland organ found in the digestive and endocrine systems of vertebrates. Its function is two-fold; it produces both hormones and digestive enzymes. The pancreas is crucial in the regulation of blood sugar levels as it secretes insulin and glucagon, as well as somatostatin and pancreatic polypeptides.

It also aids the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats through the production of digestive enzymes that pass into the upper intestine.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms


Jaundice can observe as an unnatural yellow tone in the skin and sclera (whites) of the eyes. As a mass in the pancreas grows, it may obstruct the bile ducts, causing an excessive amount of bilirubin in the blood.

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is, perhaps, the pancreatic cancer symptom most likely to cause a patient to seek care. Pain is usually felt in the upper portion of the abdomen with sensations sometimes radiating into the back. The pain will often worsen within three to four hours of eating, or when lying down.

Unintended Weight Loss

Unintentional weight loss is almost always a sign of distress and warrants a visit to the doctor. When accompanied by abdominal pain, it is one of the most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Because this symptom is among the first to present, it is very important to have it addressed by a physician.


Since the pancreas is essential for healthy digestion, a disruption in its healthy function, such as cancer, will frequently cause nausea and vomiting.

Loss of Appetite

Patients with pancreatic cancer often report that they have experienced a loss of appetite, which may be due to the impaired ability of the pancreas to regulate insulin and glucagon. Loss of appetite often attributed to other causes such as stress or indigestion.

As such, it may be ignored unless accompanied by other hallmark symptoms of pancreatic malignancies such as unintentional weight loss, abdominal pain, or vomiting.

Itchy Skin

As the digestive and thus, detoxification processes related to the pancreas are compromised, some patients experience itchy skin. If a connection between this symptom and other signs, such as abdominal pain, is not made, patients may find themselves referred to a dermatologist. Sadly, this does more than inconvenience the patient with unproductive treatment; it delays the commencement of effective, life-extending cancer treatment.


As stated earlier, one of the primary roles of the pancreas is to produce insulin. When the pancreas cannot do so, a diagnosis of diabetes is often made as levels of insulin, and glucagon falls out of balance. While diabetes treatment may alleviate the symptoms, the presence of cancer often missed unless a connection made between its unexpected onset and other symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

Certainly, anyone who is diagnosed with diabetes without having any typical risk factors should express a healthy curiosity as to the exact origin of the disease.

Changes in Bowel Movements and Urination

When malignancies in the pancreas grow large enough to block the bile ducts, noticeable changes in your bodily waste functions may occur. Urine may assume a darker colour. Bowel movements may become loose, lose their brown colour in favour of a clay-like hue, and develop an atypically strong odour.

Stages of Pancreatic Cancer

Stage One Pancreatic Cancer

A small tumor occupies a small portion of the pancreas during stage one. Those diagnosed in this stage of pancreatic cancer have a high survival rate because surgery to remove the cancer is an option. Patients in this stage have a good chance of surviving the next five years and more. Generally, though, doctors do not find pancreatic cancer in this first stage. If they do, and if they can perform surgery.

The pancreatic cancer survival rate increases from about 10% to 20%. After surgery, approximately 20% of patients have a chance to live five years or more.

Stage Two Pancreatic Cancer

In stage two, pancreatic cancer is still treatable. Although the tumor is more significant than in stage one, it remains solely inside the pancreas. In some cases, it may have spread to lymph nodes surrounding the pancreas.

Surgery to remove the lymph nodes, and the tumor is still an option in stage two, or the patient may undergo cancer medications. However, only 20% of people, on average, survive longer than one year following the diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, less than 5% of those diagnosed will survive for five years or more. The survival chances from stage one to stage two diagnosis lessen considerably.

Stage Three Pancreatic Cancer

In this stage, cancer has spread into the blood vessels, in addition to the surrounding lymph nodes. This cancer referred to as locally advanced cancer. A surgeon can still remove the lymph nodes and the tumor, but cannot entirely rid the body of cancer.

A doctor may want to try surgery in addition to other cancer treatments, but it is nearly impossible at this stage to entirely remove cancer. This decreases the survival chances for a person diagnosed with stage three to even less than 5%.

Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer

Patients reach stage four, pancreatic cancer quickly. Cancer enters the bloodstream to spread into the rest of the body, as well as into the bones. The cancer is not treatable at this stage, but the doctor will give the patient pain medicine and treatment to make them comfortable.

The pancreatic cancer survival rate in stage four is very low. From the diagnosis, a patient may only survive a couple of days. Median survival time ranges from three to six months.

Overall, pancreatic cancer has a very low survival rate. Patients average one year of survival from diagnoses because the cancer is not easily found and spreads quickly in the body. Remember, though, that survival rates describe groups of people. They are not a predictor of an individual patient’s survival chances. No two patients are identical in their bodies or their disease, and treatment responses can be very different among patients. Working on an effective cure, though, is very important because this disease is so difficult to catch, and pancreatic cancer survival rate is so low.

Thank you for reading this! #Be empowered now.

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