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Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Painful" Cancers

Don't overlook these potentially serious signals.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most feared forms of cancer—not only is it one of the deadliest, but it's also one of the most painful. "Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most painful malignancies," wrote the authors of a study in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology. That's because, lacking a routine screening test, pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed after it's advanced, having spread to the abdomen or bones, or pressing against other organs or the spine. The best hope is early detection, to catch the cancer before it's spread outside the pancreas if at all possible. Here are some of the early signs of pancreatic cancer. Read on to find out more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


Back Pain

Warming up outdoors in the autumn, hands on the hips, back ache position. Concept photo, closeup

Pain that radiates toward the back can signify many things, most often not serious. But it can also be a sign of pancreatic cancer, says the American Cancer Society. A tumor that starts in the pancreas can press on neighboring organs, causing pain. Sometimes, pancreatic cancer can affect nerves surrounding the pancreas, causing back pain.

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Light-Colored or Oily Stools

Close-up of woman on toilet in morning

The pancreas produces enzymes that help the body digest fat. Pancreatic cancer can disrupt this process. The result can be oily or floating stools, a cue that your body isn't breaking down dietary fat properly. Bile and bilirubin turn waste brown, but if the bile ducts are blocked by a tumor, stools may be lighter-colored, even clay-hued or gray.

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Nausea or Vomiting After Eating Fatty Foods

Woman Suffering From Nausea

If you feel nauseous or vomit after eating fatty foods, it could be another sign that a pancreatic tumor might be preventing the body from digesting fat. Pancreatic tumors can cause a partial blockage of the digestive tract, causing heartburn, queasiness or regurgitation. If it happens to you repeatedly, call your doctor.

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Jaundice patient with yellowish discoloration of skin in comparison with Normal Skin color.

Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes, happens when bilirubin, a component of bile, builds up in the blood. Bile travels from the gallbladder through the common bile duct, which passes through the pancreas. If a tumor is growing in the head of the pancreas, it may obstruct the bile duct and flow of bile, and jaundice may result. 

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Man taking blood sample with lancet pen indoors

If you suddenly develop type 2 diabetes even though you follow a sensible diet and are at a healthy weight, it could be a sign of pancreatic cancer. That's because the pancreas produces insulin, which regulates blood sugar. A tumor can interrupt that process, potentially causing the sudden development of type 2 diabetes. It can also be the reason people with well-controlled diabetes suddenly find the condition difficult to manage. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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