Olivia Williams discusses ‘bizarre’ symptom of pancreatic cancer
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With pancreatic cancer, you might not have any symptoms until the disease is advanced, the Mayo Clinic reports. However, Pancreatic Cancer UK warns that if you experience this one symptom, you should go to your GP “straight away”.
The charity advises it’s always a good idea to speak to your GP if you suspect any symptoms of pancreatic cancer as you don’t know why you have them.
However, jaundice is one symptom that warrants medical help straight away.
Jaundice causes the whites of your eyes or your skin to turn yellow.
In most people, jaundice will be one of the first symptoms, American Cancer Society reports.
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Jaundice is caused by the build-up of bilirubin, a substance produced in the liver.
Normally, the liver releases a liquid called bile that contains this substance.
Bile then goes through the bile duct into your intestines, where it helps break down fats, and then it eventually leaves your body in your poo.
But when the common bile duct becomes blocked, bile isn’t able to reach the intestines, causing the amount of bilirubin in the body to build up. Cancer can be pressing on this duct.
How to spot jaundice?
Apart from your skin or eyes turning yellow, you might also experience three other signs linked to jaundice.
Dark urine can sometimes be the first sign of jaundice, as bilirubin increases the urine can become brown, the American charity reports.
Gray coloured stools can be caused by the bile getting blocked, while greasy stools can occur due to the pancreatic enzymes not being able to get through to the intestine and break down the fats.
This can cause your poo to float in the toilet.
The last tell-tale sign is itchy skin. As well as your skin turning yellow, the bilirubin build-up in the skin can lead to itching.
If you experience jaundice, you should see your GP “straight away” and they should refer you “urgently” for a CT scan, Pancreatic Cancer UK reports.
A CT scan uses x-rays to create a 3D picture of the pancreas and the surrounding organs.
You should have this scan within two weeks from the referral date. If you haven’t heard from anyone within that time, speak to your GP, the UK charity advises.
Although jaundice can be one of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, there are also other common causes of this problem, the American Cancer Society informs.
These can range from gallstones and hepatitis to other liver and bile duct diseases.
Some other pancreatic cancer symptoms that could be helpful to know are:
- Loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
- Feeling tired or having no energy
- 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
- Symptoms of indigestion like feeling bloated.
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