Q:

What are the differences in symptoms between pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis in women?

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Quick Answer

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include abdomen and upper back pain, loss of appetite, jaundice, and nausea and vomiting, according to MedicineNet. Symptoms of pancreatitis include abdomen and upper back pain, nausea and vomiting, oily stools, and weight loss, notes Mayo Clinic. During the early stages of pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer, women may experience few of these symptoms or no symptoms at all.

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Full Answer

While the exact causes of pancreatic cancer remain unknown, women that smoke, or those who develop diabetes or pancreatitis, and those with a family history of pancreatic cancer face an increased risk for developing the disease, states MedicineNet. Even though men typically develop pancreatic cancer more often, women who experience prolonged abdominal and upper back pain should seek medical attention to identify the causes of these health issues.

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. The causes of pancreatitis include alcoholism, smoking, gallstones, abdominal surgery and infection, explains Mayo Clinic. If left untreated, pancreatitis may lead to diabetes, kidney failure and difficulty when breathing. The medical tests used to diagnose pancreatitis include CT scans, blood and stool tests, and abdominal and endoscopic ultrasounds.

Treatment options for women with pancreatic cancer depend on the cancer stage, the American Cancer Society explains. Radiation therapy, surgery and cancer-fighting drugs may help prolong the lives of cancer patients. Treatment options for women with pancreatitis may include fasting to reduce inflammation, pancreatic enzymes to prevent future inflammation, or surgery to treat the underlying causes of pancreatitis.

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