Two signs of advanced pancreatic cancer that appear on the skin
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Around 29 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every day in the UK, making it the 10th most common form of the disease.
However, it is the fifth most deadly, accounting for nearly 10,000 deaths each year.
And rates have increased since the early 1990s – with around 17 percent more diagnoses now.
The pancreas is a large gland found high up in the abdomen. It works to create digestive juices and hormones, including insulin.
Often the disease does not display symptoms in its earliest stages, with the signs starting to appear as the cancer grows.
Due to the placement of the pancreas some patients will experience abdominal or back pain as a result of cancer.
However, there are two signs that could appear somewhere less expected to be wary of.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pancreatic cancer symptoms can show up on the skin.
It warns that suffering from jaundice – the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes – as well as itchy skin can be caused by “advanced” pancreatic cancer.
And Pancreatic Cancer UK states that jaundice could be “one of the first signs” of the disease.
The charity explains: “Pancreatic cancer causes jaundice by blocking your bile duct. This may be called obstructive jaundice.
“Your bile duct is the tube that takes bile from your liver to your duodenum. This is the first part of the small intestine.
“Bile is a fluid which your liver makes to help you digest food. It contains a yellow substance called bilirubin.
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“Bilirubin is the waste product of the normal breakdown of old red blood cells.
“If your bile duct is blocked, it can cause a build-up of bilirubin in your blood. This can lead to jaundice.”
Jaundice is what causes the itchy skin that can accompany pancreatic cancer.
The itchiness is due to a build up of bile salts in the blood when the bile ducts are blocked or if the liver is not working as it should.
Cancer Research UK says the most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer are:
- Abdominal or back pain
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes to your poo.
However, it can also cause:
- Blood clots.
The charity adds: “Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be vague. They can be caused by other conditions, but it’s important to get them checked by a doctor.”
If you experience any of these symptoms you should speak to your GP.
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