The pancreas is an organ responsible for making certain hormones and aiding in digestion. Pancreatic cancer is cancer of the pancreas. There are two basic types of pancreatic cancer. The most common type affects the pancreatic glands that make digestive enzymes and release them into the intestines to aid digestion.
To learn more about signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor at one of our four convenient locations:
Signs & Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Some of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are due to problems with the pancreas itself, while others are due to the spread of the cancer to other organs.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include:
- Changes in bowel movements
- Abdominal or back pain
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Blood clots
- Weight loss and lack of appetite
- Digestive problems
Because there are other conditions with many of the same symptoms, see your Dignity Health doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer at Dignity Health
Pancreatic cancer is hard to find in the early stages. The pancreas lies behind the stomach, deep in the abdomen. This makes it virtually impossible to feel tumors as they develop and grow. By the time people notice symptoms, pancreatic cancer has usually already spread to other organs.
Diagnosing pancreatic cancer may include:
- Biopsy to remove a tissue sample
- Blood tests, including tumor markers and liver function tests
- Medical history and physical exam to look for other signs of cancer and evaluate your symptoms
- Imaging exams, including MRI scan, CT scan, ultrasound, X-ray, and special exams to look at the pancreatic ducts and bile ducts
If these tests find cancer, your doctor may recommend further testing to gauge the extent, or stage of disease. Having a complete diagnosis, including the stage, helps your doctor plan the most effective treatment.
Dignity Health offers diagnostic testing for signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.