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What are the symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer?

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Quick Answer

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive cancer, and its symptoms often don't manifest until it is in advanced stages and has spread, according to WebMD. Because symptoms don't appear until later stages, many symptoms depend on the specific location of the cancer, both in the pancreas and around the whole body.

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Full Answer

The earliest symptoms involve the pancreas, but differ depending on the location of the cancer in the pancreas, explains WebMD. Pancreatic cancer in the head of the pancreas causes weight loss, dark urine, itching, nausea and vomiting, and jaundice, which is when the skin turns yellow due to bile buildup in blood. Pancreatic cancer in the tail of the pancreas causes belly and back pain, as well as weight loss.

As the cancer spread, gastrointestinal problems and symptoms often occur next, notes WebMD. Abdominal pain is very common with pancreatic cancer as the cancer spreads. Bloating or fullness in the stomach occurs, along with nausea, diarrhea and discolored stool.

Finally, whole-body symptoms occur as the cancer grows in the rest of the body, states WebMD. Often, weight loss, malaise and loss of appetite occurs. Because the pancreas produces insulin, individuals with pancreatic cancer can develop diabetes, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Other symptoms may occur, such as loss of appetite and change in tastes. However, these symptoms are variable and unpredictable.

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