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Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Nov. 18th, 2022

Pancreatic cancer, cancer that begins in the pancreas, accounts for 3% of all cancers in the U.S. The average person has a risk of 1 in 64 of getting pancreatic cancer.1

Pancreatic cancer oftentimes goes undetected in its early stages; however, this is when the cancer is most curable. This is due to the fact that the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer don’t show until it spreads to other organs and tissues in the body. Treatment when pancreatic cancer is in the beginning stages can potentially be life-saving and improve your quality of life.

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Some of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer includes:2,3

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Belly pain
  • Itchy skin
  • Blood clots
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored or gray stool
  • Jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and whites of your eyes
  • New diagnosis of diabetes
  • Inability to control diabetes

It’s important to note that experiencing some of these symptoms of pancreatic cancer does not necessarily mean you have it. Talk to a doctor and get a professional diagnosis if you believe that you might have pancreatic cancer.

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is oftentimes unknown. However, several factors can increase your chances of developing pancreatic cancer. Some risk factors include:4, 5, 1, 6, 7, 8

  • Being 60-80 years old. The average age for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is over 70 years old. It is commonly diagnosed in those 65-74, and most patients are at least over 45 years.
  • Male gender. More men than women are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.1
  • Diabetes. People with diabetes are 1.5 to 2 fold more likely to get pancreatic cancer. Individuals who have had diabetes for over 5 years are considered slightly more at risk than the average person.
  • Eating a lot of red/processed meat. Red meat consumption has been shown to have a link to pancreatic cancer, especially in men.
  • Obesity. People who have a BMI over 30 are 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
  • Smoking. Individuals who smoke are twice as likely to get pancreatic cancer than those who don’t. It is estimated that 25% of pancreatic cancer cases are caused by cigarette smoke.
  • Family history. Up to 10% of pancreatic cases are in people who have a family history of it. Some genetic syndromes linked to pancreatic cancer include hereditary breast cancer, familial pancreatitis, lynch syndrome, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome, and familial atypical multiple mole melanoma (FAMMM).
  • Exposure to industrial chemicals. Studies have found a link between pancreatic cancer and various chemicals, including pesticides, asbestos, benzene, chlorinated hydrocarbons, chromium, and nickel.8

Understanding Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer usually occurs when the cells that line the ducts of the pancreas begin to form tumors. This will often begin with one cell failing to replicate itself properly, and then that cell multiplies into more cells until it becomes uncontrollable. If you fail to seek proper treatment, then pancreatic cancer can spread to other organs and tissues in the body.9

Reducing Your Risk for Pancreatic Cancer

If you are at risk of developing pancreatic cancer, there are some steps you can take to help reduce your chances of getting it. Some ways to reduce your risk include:

  • Avoid smoking. Smoking and pancreatic cancer are directly linked to one another. If you smoke cigarettes, you should consider making an action plan to stop. You can talk to your doctor if you need help quitting cigarettes.
  • Stay active. Find ways you can be active each day to help maintain a healthy weight. Most experts recommend being active for at least 30 minutes a day. Some easy activities you can do include walking, jumping rope, running, biking, and swimming.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables can help you manage your weight as well as prevent diabetes. Fill your diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid eating sugary or processed foods.
  • Wear proper protection when working with chemicals. If you work in an environment where you might be exposed to chemicals that can put you at risk for pancreatic cancer, try to wear the proper protection while you work. This includes wearing a mask, gloves, and other protective gear.

Get Help By Knowing the Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Now that you know some early pancreatic cancer signs, you can stay alert if you believe that you might be at risk in the future. If you notice any of these signs and symptoms in you or a loved one, contact a medical professional and schedule an appointment.

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Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.


  1. “Key Statistics for Pancreatic Cancer.” 21 January 2022. Accessed 10 November 2022. Link:,will%20die%20of%20pancreatic%20cancer.
  2. “Pancreatic Cancer.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Accessed 10 November 2022. Link:
  3. “Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer.” Last revised 11 February 2019. Accessed 10 November 2022. Link:
  4. “Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors.” The Johns Hopkins University, John Hopkins Medicine. Accessed 10 November 2022. Link:
  5. Markman, Maurie. “Pancreatic cancer causes and risk factors.” COH HoldCo Inc., Cancer Center Treatments of America. Last updated 10 May 2022. Link:
  6. Rosenzweig, Allison. “6 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer.” Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. 13 April 2021. Accessed 10 November 2022. Link:
  7. “Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors.” Last revise 9 June 2020. Accessed 10 November 2022. Link:,be%20caused%20by%20cigarette%20smoking.
  8. Antwi, Samuel O et al. “Exposure to environmental chemicals and heavy metals, and risk of pancreatic cancer.” Cancer causes & control : CCC vol. 26,11 (2015): 1583-91. doi:10.1007/s10552-015-0652-y. Link:,nickel%20%5B10%E2%80%9315%5D.
  9. “Pancreatic cancer.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Last Updated 6 June 2021. Accessed 10 November 2022. Link: