The main symptoms of pancreatic cancer are pain, weight loss and jaundice.
Most patients have pain at some point in the diagnosis. It is usually in the upper part of the abdomen and may be felt in the back at the same time. Pain is not always present at the time of diagnosis and there are many ways of controlling the pain if it occurs
Weight loss can be substantial; often more than 10% of the original body weight. There may also be a loss of appetite.
Jaundice, when the skin turns yellow, happens if the tumour blocks the thin tube that runs from the liver to the small bowel. This leads to a build up for bilirubin in the blood stream which accounts for the yellowness. The jaundice may also cause itching. As well as jaundice, the urine may turn very dark and the stools very pale.
The symptoms can vary according to where in the pancreas the tumour is.
By the time the tumour causes symptoms, it is not removable by an operation in half of cases.