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What are the initial signs of pancreatic cancer?

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Quick Answer

Although an individual in the early stages of pancreatic cancer often experiences no symptoms, some of the earliest warning signs include upper abdomen discomfort and unexplained weight loss, explains the University of California Medical Center. These symptoms need to be investigated, especially if antacids don't help with abdominal pain.

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Full Answer

Signs of pancreatic cancer depend on the location of the cancer in the pancreas, states WebMD. Cancer is located either in the head, body or tail of the pancreas. If an individual experiences nausea, vomiting, itching and jaundice, the cancer is most likely located at the head of the pancreas. The duct that drains bile from the pancreas is located at the head of the organ, so cancer in this area blocks the duct and results in off-colored stools and urine. Cancer in the body or tail results in back pain, abdominal pain and weight loss.

Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer depend on the type of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Gastrinomas are tumors in the pancreas that produce excess amounts of the hormone gastrin. This hormone regulates stomach acid, so a tumor leads to ulcers, nausea and bleeding that occur because of too much acidity. Glucagonomas tumors make too much glucagon, a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. This can result in high blood sugar levels and diabetes.

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