Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

The diabetes (incretin) medications outlined in the adjacent table are linked to causing pancreatic cancer. Therefore, if you or a loved one has taken, or is currently taking, one or more of these medications, you could be at an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Unfortunately, there are usually no early warning signs of pancreatic cancer. Typically, by the time someone starts to experience symptoms, the cancer has spread outside of the pancreas. Nevertheless, there are some symptoms (jaundice, dark urine, light colored/greasy stools,) indicative of this disease. However, it is very important to keep in mind that these symptoms are not necessarily specific to pancreatic cancer and could be related to other diseases or illnesses (gallstones, hepatitis, and other liver and bile duct diseases). Regardless, these symptoms and their potential causes should be discussed with a licensed medical professional as soon as possible.


JAUNDICE: Usually one of the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer, jaundice is caused by the accumulation of bilirubin within the body. Bilirubin is a dark yellow/brownish substance that is a part of the liquid called bile (body waste). Bile is excreted from the liver into the intestine by way of the common bile duct, and eventually leaves the body in the stool. However, if a pancreatic tumor grows and blocks the bile duct from emptying into the intestine, bilirubin builds up in the body, causing one or more of the following symptoms:

  1. Yellowing of the eyes and skin – A buildup of bilirubin can cause the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow.
  2. Dark urine – Increased levels of bilirubin (jaundice) also causes urine to appear darker in color.
  3. Light colored or greasy stools – Bilirubin is usually what gives stool its brown color. Therefore, if the bile duct is blocked, bilirubin is unable to make its way into the intestine and then stool. As a result, stools may appear pale or gray as opposed to brown. Likewise, if a tumor is blocking the ducts, pancreatic enzymes, which break down fats, can also be prevented from getting into the intestines and stools may become greasy and might float in the toilet.
  4. Itchy skin – In addition to turning yellow, the skin can become itchy following a buildup of bilirubin.

ABDOMINAL (BELLY) AND/OR BACK PAIN: Tumors growing in the tail or body of the pancreas can grow to be quite large and can eventually end up pressing on other nearby organs, causing pain. Similarly, the cancer may spread to the nerves surrounding the pancreas, which can cause back pain.

WEIGHT LOSS/POOR APPETITE: Individuals with pancreatic cancer often have little or no appetite. As such, unintended weight loss is quite common in people with pancreatic cancer.

NAUSEA AND VOMITING: If a pancreatic tumor presses on the stomach, it can cause a blockage, making it difficult for food to pass. The inability of food to pass through the stomach can cause, vomiting and nausea, as well as pain that tends to be worse after meals.

GALLBLADDER AND/OR LIVER ENLARGEMENT: Pancreatic tumors that block the bile duct can cause bile to build up in the gallbladder, making it larger. Similarly, if the cancer spreads to the liver, the liver can become enlarged. An enlarged liver and/or gallbladder can sometimes be felt during a physical exam and can be seen on various radiographical images (MRI, CT scan, etc.).

DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS OR DVT: A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a large blood clot that forms within leg. Symptoms can include pain, redness, swelling, and warmth in affected leg.

FATTY TISSUE ABNORMALITIES: Some individuals with pancreatic cancer develop an uneven texture of the fatty tissue underneath the skin, which is caused by the buildup of pancreatic enzymes that digest fat.

BLOOD SUGAR FLUCTUATION: the pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar. Cancer within the pancreas can cause abnormal or hindered insulin production, which can result in elevated blood sugar levels.

Aside from the liver, pancreatic cancer can spread to other organs and tissues. Thus, symptoms depend on where the cancer is growing. For example, cancer spread to the lungs can cause shortness of breath or a cough. Cancer spread to bones can cause pain in those bones.

Unfortunately, many diabetics are unaware that their diabetes medications are putting them at a much greater risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Therefore, if you or a loved one has diabetes and have taken, or are currently taking, one or more of the above diabetes medications, you should talk to your doctor about pancreatic cancer screening, regardless if you have experienced any of these symptoms.

Ultimately, it is through litigating these cases that we aim to spread awareness to these issues and hold the manufacturers accountable for the harm they have caused. If you or a loved one is a diabetic and have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, The Yost Legal Group may be able to help. Our team of experienced legal professionals is here to offer you free, individual consultation. Call The Yost Legal Group at 1-800-YOST-LAW.