Pancreatic cancer is treatable if it is discovered early enough, says the American Cancer Society. Individuals should seek medical attention for unexplained weight loss and for abdominal pain and discomfort not relieved by antacids, as these are the earliest warning signs, explains the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.
Doctors can perform early detection tests for pancreatic cancer. These include performing a CT scan of the pancreas or looking for tumor markers and specific proteins in blood tests, states the UCSF Medical Center. Any oddities in the CT scan are followed up with a PET scan to get a better picture of the pancreas and any possible tumors, lesions or cysts. People can get genetically tested to see if they have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, says the American Cancer Society. Once an individual is determined to be at risk for the disease, he undergoes an endoscopic ultrasound to look for tumors.
Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer depend on the location of the cancer, according to WebMD. For instance, cancer in the head of the pancreas where the bile duct is located can result in a light stool color and dark urine, because the duct is blocked. Cancer in the body and tail of the pancreas results in weight loss, back pain and abdominal pain.