Why pancreas cancer is not detected early? Beware of early signs.

Pancreas cancer is relatively uncommon, at no 24th in incidence; but >90% mortality rate in India. It means most of patients diagnosed with pancreas cancer will die from it. There is only one hope and that is to identify and operate it at earliest possible stage. Surgery is the only treatment modality which has shown good survival rates in pancreas cancer. Pancreas can is mostly undetectable initially, rapidly growing aggressive tumour with high recurrence rates. There are no initial symptoms because it is located deep inside abdomen and there is no routine screening test for pancreas cancer. Normal routine health checkup is not sufficient to detect pancreas cancer early.  So it can be called as “Silent and Deadly Cancer”.

Pain abdomen may be an initial sign of pancreas cancer

Pain Abdomen

Jaundice can be a symptom of pancreatic cancer


Loss of weight

New onset or worsening diabetes

New Onset Diabetes

Loss of energy

weakness and loss of energy

Itching with Jaundice

Itching with Jaundice

  1. General Abdominal discomfort or pain: initial symptoms of pancreas cancer can be vague and often confusion with more common problems of gastritis or infection. This pain may radiate to back also. There is a tendency of ignoring this initial discomfort. There are fair chances of missing this initial window. Normal laboratory blood tests doesn’t mean that everything is normal inside. One single visit with a doctor may not be sufficient. So it is of utmost importance that if symptoms are not improving; inform them to your doctor and do the imaging investigation. Patients with risk factors like age > 50years,smoking, alcohol, family history etc should be investigated with more suspicion. Apart from CT scan most of routine tests have low low detection rate for pancreas problems because its deep seated location.
  2. Significant decline in weight should not be ignored. They may be related to pancreatic cancer.
  3. Increase in blood sugar new onset or above preexisting. Studies have shown that investigating these symptoms could detect pancreas cancer early
  4. Jaundice- Yellow discoloration skin, eyes, and urine. Sometimes associated with itching. Jaundice is present in around 70% of cases. This jaundice is caused by pressure of tumor over bile ducts and it increases as the tumor grows. Blood bilirubin level till 5 usually are not visible as body changes. It may decrease sometimes but don’t improve. Never waste time in treating these jaundice with medicines. We see a lot of patients who have wasted crucial time and later remain eligible only for palliative treatment.
  5. Dark Urine and light colored stools
  6. Loss of apetite/ Idigestion

So we have seen that initially there are no specific symptoms, even jaundice takes time to develop and is not a symptom in all cases. When it happens in such deadly disease; remaining vigilant is the only option. Whenever it is felt to rule out pancreas cancer as a cause, do a CT scan of abdomen and remain in physical followup of the doctor for constant communication.

“Only early diagnosis is not sufficient, early diagnosis followed by earliest possible surgery is the requirement to prevent pancreas cancer associated mortality”

Related Video

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Call Now Button