As pancreatic cancer progresses, it can cause complications such as:
Nov. 22, 2014
Jaundice. Pancreatic cancer that blocks the liver's bile duct can cause jaundice. Signs include yellow skin and eyes, dark-colored urine, and pale-colored stools.
Your doctor may recommend that a plastic or metal tube (stent) be placed inside the bile duct to hold it open. In some cases a bypass may be needed to create a new way for bile to flow from the liver to the intestines.
Pain. A growing tumor may press on nerves in your abdomen, causing pain that can become severe. Pain medications can help you feel more comfortable. Radiation therapy may help stop tumor growth temporarily to give you some relief.
In severe cases, your doctor may recommend a procedure to inject alcohol into the nerves that control pain in your abdomen (celiac plexus block). This procedure stops the nerves from sending pain signals to your brain.
Bowel obstruction. Pancreatic cancer that grows into or presses on the small intestine (duodenum) can block the flow of digested food from your stomach into your intestines.
Your doctor may recommend a tube (stent) be placed in your small intestine to hold it open. Or bypass surgery may be necessary to attach your stomach to a lower point in your intestines that isn't blocked by cancer.
Weight loss. A number of factors may cause weight loss in people with pancreatic cancer.
The cancer itself may cause weight loss. Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatments or a tumor pressing on your stomach may make it difficult to eat. Or your body may have difficulty properly processing nutrients from food because your pancreas isn't making enough digestive juices.
Pancreatic enzyme supplements may be recommended to aid in digestion. Try to maintain your weight by adding extra calories where you can and making mealtime as pleasant and relaxed as possible.
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