Cancer is usually asymptomatic for a while, but some types of cancer are easy to detect at an early stage. Some others can be difficult, but standard screening methods would help patients make an accurate diagnosis before it gets out of hand. However, some cancers remain elusive for both patients and doctors, and they are only detected if the tumors are large enough to cause serious changes. Pancreatic cancer falls into this category.
The pancreas is a retroperitoneal organ, which means it is intense in the abdominal cavity. We cannot feel this organ through the skin, and it is impossible to diagnose pancreatic disease without the help of radiology and laboratory tests. In most cases, pancreatic cancer begins to show clear signs and symptoms when large enough to cause structural damage to the surrounding organs and when cancer cells show endocrine activity, creating a hormonal imbalance. In this article, we cover the most important signs and symptoms to consider in pancreatic cancer but do not wait for these symptoms to appear before performing your routine check-up.
1. Loss of appetite
It counts as one of the initial symptoms patients report in pancreatic cancer, but sometimes it is only in advanced stages. The tumor synthesizes several inflammatory cytokines made to change the way blood vessels behave around the affected tissue. It is meant to increase blood circulation and blood flow to feed the tumor and promote its growth, but it would also travel through the bloodstream and reach other organs, including the brain. In reaching the brain, these inflammatory molecules alter the centers of appetite and cause anorexia, the clinical name of loss of appetite.
An additional cause to consider is that, in advanced stages of cancer, the tumor grows disproportionately and pushes aside other organs, including the stomach. This creates an additional source of pressure that is perceived by the stomach as fullness and satiety. This effect is more common in pancreatic cancer located around the tail of the pancreas, closer to the stomach.
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