EBSCO Health

Print PageSend to a Friend
Health Library Home>Conditions InDepth>Article

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

In most cases, symptoms don't appear until pancreatic cancer is in later stages. If you have problems, don't think it's because of cancer. Many are caused by other, less serious health problems, such as pancreatitis. There can also be problems with the gallbladder or liver. But, you still need to talk about them with your doctor. Finding and treating the cause early will make your chances for a cure better.

Symptoms can differ based on the part of the pancreas that has cancer. The most common are:

  • Belly pain—may or may not spread to the back
  • Unintended weight loss—nutrients from foods are not broken down and absorbed the way they should be
  • Lack of hunger
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes—jaundice
  • Feeling tired
  • Depression
  • Blood clots—can lead to other problems such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
  • Nausea
  • Itching skin
  • Feeling full even after only a light meal
  • Dark urine
  • Stools that are pale in color, greasy, or float on the toilet water
  • Glucose intolerance or type 2 diabetes

De La Cruz MD, Young AP, Ruffin MT. Diagnosis and management of pancreatic cancer. Am Fam Physician. 2014;89(8):626-632.

Pancreatic cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114527/Pancreatic-cancer. Updated August 31, 2018. Accessed October 25, 2018.

Pancreatic cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/tumors-of-the-gi-tract/pancreatic-cancer. Updated October 2017. Accessed October 25, 2018.

Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html. Updated May 31, 2016. Accessed October 25, 2018.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 10/25/2018