These are the first signs and causes of pancreatic cancer

Pedro Marrero
Jun 05, 2018
12:41 A.M.
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Pancreatic cancer is known for being both one of the deadliest types of cancer and a ‘silent’ one that doesn’t show any early symptoms. But there are actually some signs that can warn us about it at an early stage.


This type of cancer resonated quite a lot when it took the life of Apple’s founder Steve Jobs in 2011, and it is the fourth type of cancer with more deadly victims in the United States, according to Vida y Salud.

The pancreas is an organ that is located in the abdomen, behind the stomach, and it is approximately six inches long.

It has two main functions in the body: first, to produce the gastric juices that help digest the food, and second, to produce hormones like insulin that help the body control the levels of sugar in the blood.

Pancreatic cancer appears when some of the cells of this organ mutate and turn into cancerous cells that grow and multiply abnormally until a tumor is formed, sometimes expanding to other parts of the body.


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The most common form of pancreatic cancer is known as Adenocarcinoma or exocrine tumor. According to the American Cancer Society, 95% of the cases of pancreatic cancer are of this kind.


This kind of tumor is formed in the exocrine glands in the pancreas’ ducts that are responsible for the production of gastric juices.

Jaundice, the yellowing of the eyes, would be one of the first symptoms of this type of cancer. Dark urine can come even earlier, as the bilirubin levels in the blood increase and urine becomes brown.

Weight loss and poor appetite, as well as nausea and vomiting, can happen as a result of a pancreatic tumor pressing on the stomach.

Another sign of exocrine pancreatic cancer is the development of uneven textures in the fatty tissue below the skin, caused by the release of pancreatic enzymes that digest fat.


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There is a lesser-known type of pancreatic cancer called endocrine cancer because it comes from the endocrine glands, responsible for the production of hormones.


This kind of tumors often releases an excess of hormones into the bloodstream. According to the tumor, the hormones released can vary, and this produces different symptoms.

The type known as Glucagonomas make a hormone called glucagon, which increases sugar levels in the blood. Symptoms can be excessive thirst and hunger and having to urinate more frequently than usual.

A rash called necrolytic migratory erythema is usually the symptom that makes the patient want to visit a doctor for.

Image source: Shutterstock.


Insulinomas are tumors that make insulin, decreasing blood sugar levels. This can cause weakness, confusion, sweating, and rapid heartbeat. If levels go too low, the person can pass out or even enter into a coma.

VIPomas can lead to severe diarrhea, and it gets worse with time. It also causes vomiting, muscle cramps and flushing around the face or neck. Acid levels in the stomach can decrease, leading to trouble digesting food.

Some risk factors have been linked to the apparition of pancreatic cancer, although the exact causes of this illness remain unknown. Smoking, old age, diabetes, can make it more likely for a person to develop it. Also, if there are previous cases of pancreatic cancer in the family, there is a higher probability of suffering from it.

To know more about the variations and signs of pancreatic cancer, make sure to visit the American Cancer Society site, and at the slightest sign of something wrong, consult your doctor. Read more on our Twitter account @amomama_usa.