Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas, which is a large gland that forms part of the digestive system.
“Around half of all new cases are diagnosed in people aged 75 or over. It's uncommon in people under 40 years of age,” explains the NHS.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer
The NHS notes that “in the early stages, a tumour in the pancreas doesn't usually cause any symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose.”
The first noticeable symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often:
pain in the back or stomach area – which may come and go at first and is often worse when lying down or after eatingunexpected weight lossjaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) – it also may cause your urine to be dark yellow or orange, your poo (faeces) to be pale-coloured, and itchy skin
Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
nausea and vomitingchanges in bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation)fever and shiveringindigestionblood clots
Cancer Research also explains that if you have cancer you might get hiccups if:
your stomach stops working and becomes extended and bloatedyou have an infection affecting your chest, or food pipe (oesophagus)you are having chemotherapy, steroids or an opioid painkiller such as morphineyour cancer is pressing on your diaphragmyou have symptoms because of a brain tumouryour kidneys are not working normally and your blood chemistry changesyou have high blood calcium levels (hypercalcaemia)
“For most people, hiccups are usually mild and go away without any medical treatment. But when hiccups are a symptom of cancer, or a side effect of cancer treatment, they can go on for longer. This makes them tiring and difficult to cope with,” adds Cancer Research.
Canadian Cancer Society adds that “the exact cause of hiccups is not known. People with cancer may have hiccups for no obvious reason, but they may be related to:
some brain tumoursesophageal cancerstomach cancerpancreatic cancertumours of the mediastinum, which is the space in the chest between the lungs, breastbone andspinelung cancerbowel obstructionsurgery to the abdomensome medicines
Fever and shivering can be a sign of pancreatic cancer (Photo: Shutterstock)
Causes of pancreatic cancer
“It's not fully understood what causes pancreatic cancer, but a number of risk factors for developing the condition have been identified,” explains the NHS.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
age – pancreatic cancer mainly affects people aged 50-80being very overweightsmoking – around 1 in 3 cases are associated with using cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobaccohaving a history of certain health conditions – such as diabetes, chronic pancreatitis (long-term inflammation of the pancreas), stomach ulcer and Helicobacter pylori infection (a stomach infection)
This article was originally published on our sister site, Yorkshire Evening Post.