PANCREATIC cancer is often known as a 'silent killer' because it's symptoms are so hard to spot – especially in the early stages.
However, there are a couple of early signs which people are being urged to look out for.
Symptoms to look out for are back pain, indigestion, stomach pain and weight loss.
But researchers have now identified two more, lesser-known symptoms.
In a study last year, researchers at the University of Oxford found that increased thirst and dark yellow urine can both be caused by pancreatic cancer.
Dr Weiqi Liao, a data scientist at the university, said: “When pancreatic cancer is diagnosed earlier, patients have a higher chance of survival.
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It is possible to diagnose patients when they visit their GP, but both patients and GPs need to be aware of the symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer.”
Pancreatic cancer is the eleventh most common type of cancer in the UK and the sixth highest cause of cancer death.
The cancer has the lowest survival rate of any common cancer in the UK – with more than half of patients dying within three months of diagnosis.
The disease affects a large gland that is part of the digestive system – the pancreas is located behind the stomach and under the liver.
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It has two main functions: dripping digestive enzymes into the gut to help break down food, and releasing the hormones insulin and glucagon to regulate blood sugar.
Pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant – cancerous – cells form in the tissues of the pancreas.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer may not have any symptoms, or they might be hard to spot.
- the whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow (jaundice), and you may also have itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual
- loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
- feeling tired or having no energy
- a high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery
- feeling or being sick
- diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo
- pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you're eating or lying down and better when you lean forward
- symptoms of indigestion, such as feeling bloated
As with all cancers, there are certain things that can increase the risk of developing the disease.
According to Cancer Research UK, smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco all increase pancreatic cancer risk.
They found that nearly one in three pancreatic cancers (about 30 per cent) may be linked to smoking.
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