Symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don't present until the disease is in a more advanced stage, but these symptoms include jaundice, loss of weight or appetite, new-onset diabetes, and abdominal or back pain, states the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Digestive problems, ascites, fatigue and blood clots are other possible symptoms.
Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes, is often the first symptom patients notice, although conditions other than pancreatic cancer cause it, notes the American Cancer Society. Oftentimes when pancreatic cancer spreads, it enters the liver, which causes jaundice due to the buildup of bilirubin. Itching skin, dark-colored urine and light-colored stools are other indications of excess bilirubin in the body.
Abdominal or back pain is common with pancreatic cancer, as is unintentional weight loss, the American Cancer Society states. If cancer begins in the tail or the head of the pancreas, the tumor may press on other internal organs or nerves, which causes pain. Patients with pancreatic cancer often have no appetite, causing sudden weight loss.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include chronic bouts of pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. Smoking, obesity, diabetes and positive family history are also risk factors, according to Mayo Clinic. Treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on the stage of the disease and includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.