woman holding her stomach in pain

What Are The Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer causes 9,000 deaths every year in the UK, making it the 5th largest cancer killer. Unfortunately, symptoms of pancreatic cancer tend not to become obvious until the disease has already progressed quite far, which is why early diagnosis is difficult. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and seek medical advice as soon as you notice them.

Many of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are also symptoms of other health conditions, so there’s no need to automatically assume you have cancer if you notice any of the signs mentioned below. However, you should always get checked by a doctor if you notice anything unusual about your health so that the problem can be identified and treated efficiently.


Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes – is one of the earliest signs of pancreatic cancer. It is caused by a buildup of bilirubin which is a substance made by the liver. In addition to a change in the colour of the skin and the whites of the eyes, jaundice can also cause darkened urine, pale stools, and itchy skin. It’s important to note that jaundice is more often caused by conditions other than pancreatic cancer, such as gallstones and hepatitis, so don’t panic if you notice this symptom but be sure to get it checked as soon as possible.

Digestive problems and weight loss

Pancreatic cancer can apply pressure to the stomach which can make it difficult for food to be properly digested. This can lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Appetite might be affected as a result and this can lead to sudden and dramatic weight loss. Pancreatic cancer often leads to deficiency of pancreatic enzymes, which may cause symptoms such as bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea or floating/greasy stools.

Recent onset Diabetes

Newly diagnosed Diabetes may be an early sign of pancreatic cancer in some patients, although it is important to stress that Diabetes is most commonly not related to pancreatic cancer. If you are diagnosed with Diabetes over the age of 50 or 60 years, and you have no recent history of weight gain, then you should be investigated to exclude pancreatic cancer, since early diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer lead to the best chance of curative treatment. If a recent diagnosis of Diabetes isassociated with weight loss or digestive symptoms (see above), urgent investigation is essential.

Pain in the back and lower abdomen

Sometimes pancreatic cancer can spread to nerves around the pancreas and cause back pain. If you notice new, unexplained back or abdominal pain you should always get it checked out, but rest assured that when these symptoms present by themselves pancreatic cancer is unlikely to be the cause.

Contact us for pancreatic cancer treatment

There are several different types of pancreatic cancer treatment available, including pancreatic surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and want to know about your treatment options, or you have worrying symptoms that you’d like to have investigated, don’t hesitate to get in touch for an appointment with one of our expert consultants.