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Pancreatic cancer is considered the 10th “most common” cancer in the UK, with about 10,500 new cases every year. Unfortunately, this diagnosis is thought to be “mostly incurable”. However, spotting the warning signs “early” could help the treatment efficacy and your overall chances of survival.
Your pancreas has various functions, ranging from helping you to digest food to making hormones like insulin.
Once you develop pancreatic cancer, the symptoms might not pop up until it becomes advanced.
However, there are some early signs that warrant seeing your GP, including backache.
Giulia Guerrini, the lead pharmacist from digital pharmacy Medino, explains what to look for.
The pharmacist said: “When it comes to pancreatic cancer, many are not diagnosed until the later stages of the illness as, quite often, symptoms are not clear early enough and can be passed off as something else entirely.
“Some of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are fairly common, hence they very often tend to get brushed off.”
The signs that can get mistaken for something else include:
- Stomach ache (at the top part of your tummy specifically)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Change to bowel habits (such as diarrhoea or constipation).
If you’re not familiar, jaundice details the whites of your eyes or your skin changing their colour to yellow.
This sign can also be accompanied by itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual, the health service states.
The expert added: “If you’ve had unexplained sickness for more than two days, unexplained diarrhoea for more than seven days or any other symptoms that you’re not sure about, phone 111 to get advice as soon as possible.”
Jaundice also belongs to this category that warrants immediate medical help.
She continued: “However, if you’re experiencing symptoms which are less worrying, such as weight loss, book in to see your GP as soon as you can to discuss your issues.
“The sooner you look at getting an issue checked over, the sooner you can begin treatment, where needed.”
Currently, getting tested for the cancer diagnosis can involve blood tests, scans or even a biopsy.
However, a new study suggests that poo samples could help to identify people at risk as well.
“Early testing, through the likes of stool samples, would undoubtedly help to increase the chance of diagnosing the cancer before it becomes more aggressive and untreatable,” the expert added.
Source: Daily Express