Pancreatic cancer symptoms: Signs to look out for and when you MUST see a doctor

Pancreatic cancer is formed in the pancreas which is a large gland that is part of the digestive system. Half of all new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed in people aged over 75 or over. It is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas. If you have two or more close relatives who have had pancreatic cancer, you doctor may recommend regular check-ups as you may be at increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Common symptoms include:

Abdominal pain

Pain in the stomach area starts as a general, slight discomfort which creates tenderness that develops into pain in the tummy that can spread to the back.

The severity of the pain is different for others and it may come and go at first but then become constant, making it worse if lying down. 

The pain may flare up after eating. Pain is a symptom in about 70 percent of pancreatic cancer cases so it is strongly advisable to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing pain in your belly.

Unexplained weight loss

Losing a significant amount of weight for no particular reason could be a symptom of pancreatic cancer. The pancreas plays a vital role in your digestive system as it produces chemicals that digests the foods we eat. When you lose weight rapidly for no reason it could mean a problem with your pancreas and therefore could be a symptom of pancreatic cancer.


When you have indigestion you will have a painful, burning feeling in your chest and it can leave a bitter taste in your mouth. This feeling could come out of nowhere and is a symptom of pancreatic cancer, particularly for the elderly.

It’s not fully understood what causes pancreatic cancer


Other symptoms to look out for:

  • Nausea and vomitting
  • Fever and shivering
  • Bowel problems
  • Jaundice

The NHS explains the causes of pancreatic cancer: “It’s not fully understood what causes pancreatic cancer, but a number of risk factor for developing the condition include age, being overweight, smoking and having a history of certain conditions.” 

Pancreatic cancer UK added: “Most pancreatic tumours do not produce a clinical syndrome so they do not cause specific symptoms.

“Rarely, some pancreatic tumours overproduce certain hormones and these give rise to different symptoms depending not the type of tumour and the hormone it produces.”

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