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Pancreatic Cancer Signs, Symptoms and Types

Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is dedicated to helping patients detect pancreatic cancer as early as possible. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer differ depending on tumor size, location and type of cell affected. Knowing what is normal for your body and telling your doctor if you notice changes is your best line of defense against pancreatic cancer.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?

Patients tend not to notice signs of pancreatic cancer in its early stages. As the cancer grows and spreads, symptoms become apparent. When pancreatic cancer is more advanced, you may experience:

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Pain radiating to the back
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Change of color of urine (orange, brown) and stool (yellow, grey)
  • Newly diagnosed diabetes
  • Blood clot in a large vein (DVT – deep vein thrombosis)
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

Pancreatic cancer symptoms are generally the same for men and women. If you have symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have pancreatic cancer. However, talk to your doctor as these symptoms may indicate other health problems.

Types of Pancreatic Cancer

  • Exocrine tumors: Tumors affecting exocrine cells are called adenocarcinomas. About 95% of pancreatic cancers begin in the exocrine (enzyme-producing) cells of the pancreas.
  • Endocrine tumors: Also called islet cell tumors or neuroendocrine tumors, these are far less common and most often benign. These cancers stem from a pancreatic endocrine tumor (PET) affecting the hormone-producing cells. 

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