Pancreatic cancer is a distressing disease that can put a lot of strain on relationships. To stand a better chance of overcoming the condition, an early diagnosis is needed. Recognise that a certain colour of urine could signal the disease.
What’s the pancreas?
The pancreas is part of the digestive system, situated behind the stomach – and in front of the spine – in the upper part of the abdomen.
It is roughly around six inches long and is level with where your ribs meet at the front of your body.
Split into three main parts: the head, body and tail of the pancreas.
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Macmillan report that six out of 10 pancreatic cancers start in the head of the pancreas.
What does the pancreas do?
The pancreas is responsible for making digestive juices and hormones, such as insulin.
The digestive juices made by the pancreas helps the body to digest food.
The flow of digestive juices
These juices travel through the pancreas to the pancreatic duct, and out of the ampulla of Vater into the duodenum.
Connected to the pancreatic duct is the common bile duct, which carries bile from the liver and ball bladder through the ampulla of Vater into the duodenum.
Together, the digestive juices and bile help to digest food.
If the cancer is in the head of the pancreas, it can block the bile duct.
As a result, jaundice might develop as a symptom of pancreatic cancer.
Jaundice takes place when bile can’t drain away, so starts to collect in the body.
One symptom of jaundice is dark, yellow urine.
Sometimes an indicator of dehydration, when pee is this colour due to jaundice, it could be a sign of pancreatic cancer.
Other symptoms of jaundice include yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
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Additionally, itchy skin, and pale, smelly faeces that are difficult to flush away indicate jaundice.
Macmillan say: “Pancreatic cancer may not cause symptoms for a long time.
“Some people may have only one symptom.”
Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer to be aware of include the following:
- Pain or discomfort in the tummy and back
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling sick
- Losing your appetite
- Having indigestion
- Feeling bloated after meals
- Having diarrhoea or changing bowel habits
- Feeling very tired
- Being newly diagnosed with diabetes
- Getting a blood clot in the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) or the Lungs (pulmonary embolus)
If you’re presenting any symptoms above, do discuss them with your GP.
A GP would be able to refer you to a hospital to arrange a CT scan or ultrasound, if they too think you may have pancreatic cancer.
If you’re diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, more tests will be made to determine the size and exact position of the cancer.
From there, treatment options can be discussed and implemented.
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