This Morning: Dr Zoe explains symptoms of pancreatic cancer
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Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that’s found anywhere in the pancreas – an organ in the top part of your tummy. Among other things, your pancreas helps you digest food and this function partly accounts for some of the symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer. When cancerous cells impair the pancreas, it can cause changes to your poo.
According to health body Maryland Oncology Hematology (MOH), You may notice light-coloured (grey or tan), metformin benefits oily, or watery poo due to the body not digesting fats well.
These changes to your poo may be the result of the pancreas not being able to deliver bilirubin to your stools, explains the health body.
Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment that is made during the normal breakdown of red blood cells.
Bilirubin passes through the liver and is eventually excreted out of the body.
According to MOH, your poo may also float and be excessively foul-smelling.
Other telltale signs include:
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Upper abdominal pain which can extend to the back
- Unexplained nausea and vomiting.
How to respond
Many of these symptoms are very common and can be caused by many different conditions.
Having them does not definitely mean you have pancreatic cancer.
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However, it’s important to get them checked by a GP, advises the NHS.
“This is because if they’re caused by cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable,” explains the health body.
The GP may feel your tummy and may ask you to give a pee sample or have a blood test, it adds.
Am I at risk?
Anyone can get pancreatic cancer – it’s not always clear what causes it.
But there are some factors that may increase your risk of developing it.
Having any of the risk factors does not mean that you will definitely develop cancer.
The most common risk factor you cannot change is age – it is more common in older people, says Cancer Research UK.
A common lifestyle factor is smoking and smokeless tobacco.
“Around 20 out of 100 cases of pancreatic cancer in the UK (around 20 percent) are caused by smoking,” reports Cancer Research UK.
Studies have given mixed results but using Scandinavian snus (a type of smokeless tobacco popular in Norway and Sweden) could increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Therefore the best way for people who smoke to reduce their risk of cancer and improve their overall health, is to stop smoking completely.
Other risk factors include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Family cancer syndromes and genetic factors
- Other medical conditions.
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