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Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month: Scientists Identify New Symptoms Associated With the Disease

pancreatic cancer
Although pancreatic cancer is rare, it is extremely deadly, tumors are difficult to excise via surgery, and therapies usually do not work. (Photo: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

As part of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, researchers have presented a new study identifying new symptoms associated with the disorder, including two previously unrecognized symptoms. They hope that their findings could improve the survival rates of patients with these symptoms and save more lives with early detection.

Macro- and microscopic view of pancreatic cancer

Macroscopic and microscopic view of pancreatic cancer (Photo: American Gastroenterological Association)

Overview of Pancreatic Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, the pancreas is a 6-inch gland shaped like a pear that has two main jobs in the body. It makes juices that break down food, and it makes hormones that help control blood sugar levels so the body can use and store the energy it needs.

Approximately 95% of pancreatic cancers begin in exocrine pancreas cells, which make the digestive juices. Smoking and health history plays a significant role in the risk of developing the disease. While the common symptoms include jaundice, pain, and weight loss.

Like all cancers, detecting pancreatic cancer in its early stage is important for a better prognosis, treatment options, and outcome. Recently, researchers from the National Cancer Research Institute have presented a new study that identifies new symptoms of the disease.

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New Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer Identified

The new study confirmed new symptoms of pancreatic cancer, wherein many patients have already experienced these symptoms a year before being diagnosed. Among these new symptoms include the two previously unrecognized symptoms, feeling thirsty and dark urine, according to Technology Networks.

Many of the new symptoms are associated with the most common pancreatic cancer, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC):

  • bleeding in the stomach
  • yellowing of the skin
  • problems swallowing
  • change in bowel habits
  • diarrhea
  • indigestion
  • abdominal mass
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • constipation
  • fat in stool
  • abdominal swelling
  • flatulence
  • fever
  • heartburn
  • tiredness
  • appetite loss
  • itching
  • back pain

Meanwhile, they also identified some symptoms related to a rare type of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PNEN):

  • jaundice
  • blood in stool
  • diarrhea
  • change in bowel habits
  • vomiting
  • indigestion
  • abdominal mass
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss

Researchers hope that their findings could improve survival rates of pancreatic cancer cases, especially those patients who present several non-specific symptoms.