Your pancreas is a 6 inch long organ that sits near your stomach on the back of your abdomen and connects to your small intestine through the pancreatic duct. It’s primary function is to assist your body in digestion in terms of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Additionally, your pancreas is what produces insulin– a peptide hormone in your body that allows sugar to transfer from the bloodstream to the cells in your body. Every living mammal requires insulin to pump through their body in order to survive, thus making your pancreas an incredibly vital gland.
The pancreas can develop a variety of conditions such as:
- Diabetes Type 1: This occurs when your body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells.
- Diabetes Type 2: If a person has Type 2 Diabetes, their pancreas lacks the ability to produce insulin. This is where high-blood pressure is critical to get under control.
- Cystic Fibrosis: A genetic disorder that typically affects the lungs or pancreas and usually leads to diabetes.
- Pancreatic Cancer: Due to the amount of different cells in the pancreas, a tumor can develop out of one of those cells causing cancer.
- Pancreatitis: The digestive chemicals in the pancreas cause damage which leads to inflammation.
- Islet Cell Tumor: This occurs when the cells abnormally multiply and a tumor grows. This tumor can either be benign or cancerous. The tumor will release hormones into the blood.
While there are even more conditions that your pancreas can be affected by, knowing the right signs to look for can spare you time, pain, and even developing pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer has such a high fatality rate, and that’s mostly due to lack of knowledge when people are experiencing the signs and symptoms.
A clear indicator of jaundice is when your eyes and skin have turned yellow. One of the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer is jaundice. Jaundice is when your body produces too much bilirubin– a yellow chemical that will develop in your hemoglobin which carries oxygen in red blood cells. Before your eyes and skin turn yellow, another sign that you may have jaundice is dark, brownish colored urine.
Abdominal and Back Pain:
Your pancreas sits in your lower abdomen right near your back. If you have pain in that general area, it might be easy to confuse with a stomach ache or back pain. When cancer grows in the pancreas, it can enlarge and begin to press on it’s surrounding areas and cause more pain.
Appetite and Weight Loss:
Often a common factor of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have experienced a drop in their appetite and resulted in losing weight.
Nausea and Vomiting:
Due to the location of the pancreas, when cancer grows it can press against the stomach. This is why it often makes people feel nauseous or even vomit.
The signs for pancreatic cancer are often hard to catch which is what results in the high fatality rate of those with pancreatic cancer. You can reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by looking into any early warning signs as they occur.