What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?
There are no early signs of pancreatic cancer, and most patients do not experience symptoms until the disease has advanced. As the cancer spreads, symptoms can include:
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Dark urine
- Large, greasy stools
- Unintended weight loss
- New onset of diabetes or worsening diabetes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the upper abdomen and back
- Burning feeling in the stomach
- General itchiness
How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?
At Miami Cancer Institute, we take a team approach with each patient. This means you have access to a group of diverse specialists, including medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, surgical oncologists, interventional oncologists and radiologists.
Our team will use the latest technology to pinpoint the exact type of tumor and the stage of disease to develop an effective treatment plan customized to your individual needs.
Because there are different types of pancreatic cancer, your doctor will use several diagnostic tests to determine your precise diagnosis. These tests may include blood and urine tests, as well as imaging tests, such as CT scans, ultrasounds, or MRIs.
You also may undergo various endoscopic tests, which involve using a thin, lighted tube, or endoscope, that your doctor will insert into your mouth and down into the intestine. The tube has a camera on it that allows your doctor to see the pancreas and find any tumors that may need to be biopsied. The endoscopic tests may include an endoscopic ultrasound or an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.
Your care team may also decide to biopsy the tumor. During this procedure, we will remove a tiny piece of tissue from a tumor or suspicious area, and a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to see if it has cancerous cells.
Genetic testing may also be a part of your initial diagnosis and screening. This will help your care team determine the exact type of pancreatic cancer tumor, so they can find a treatment targeted for your disease.