People who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer may not have any symptoms in the early stage of the illness. Symptoms may appear in later stages, when this cancer grows and spreads. They can include loss of appetite, a yellowing color of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), unexplained weight loss, and pain that radiates from the upper part of the abdomen to the back.
These symptoms may occur with other conditions that are not cancer, such as liver disease. Because of this, people with any of these symptoms should contact their personal doctor, so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated.
At Kaiser Permanente medical offices, our patients with pancreatic cancer receive treatment based on the latest technology and research. Our cancer doctors work together with other Kaiser Permanente providers to find the most effective treatment for each patient’s individual needs.
The pancreas is an organ located just behind the stomach and is an important part of the digestive system. It produces enzymes to help with digestion and makes hormones, such as insulin, that regulate blood sugar.
Most pancreatic cancers start in the ducts and tissues of the pancreas. In a very small number of cases, the cancer can start in the cells of the pancreas that produce hormones.
No one knows exactly what causes pancreatic cancer, but a history of smoking, family history of pancreatic cancer, and long-term diabetes can increase risk.
To learn more, see Pancreatic Cancer.