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Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer symptoms

The symptoms of pancreatic cancer may differ depending on size of the tumor and the type of cell affected. Symptoms also may not develop until the tumor has grown, the cancer has reached an advanced stage or spread to other parts of the body.

Early warning signs of pancreatic cancer

When symptoms of a pancreatic tumor first appear, they most commonly include jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, which is caused by an excess of bilirubina dark, yellow-brown substance made by the liver. Other common symptoms of cancer of the pancreas include:

  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Digestive problems, including abnormal stools, nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the upper abdomen, which may extend to the back
  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Swollen gallbladder (usually found by a doctor during a physical exam)
  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes

Signs of advanced pancreatic cancer

Most pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed with advanced disease, which is cancer that's spread from the pancreas to other parts of the body, including the bowel, liver, lungs, spleen or stomach. In addition to the common symptoms of pancreatic cancer, symptoms of pancreatic cancer that's advanced may include:

  • Worsening upper abdomen or back pain, especially after eating or lying down
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Swelling
  • Bed sores
  • Recently diagnosed diabetes
  • Depression

Get expert advice and care

Understanding when symptoms are a sign of something serious and either diagnosing the disease or confirming a previous diagnosis require expertise from specialists trained and experienced in treating pancreatic cancer. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our pancreatic cancer experts treat all stages of the disease.  

Next topic: What are the types of pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer overview


pancreatic cancer infographic

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