Why is it so hard to detect pancreatic cancer?  Most people don't know they have it until its too late.

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trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because the pancreas is deep in the body, and doctors are unable to see or feel these tumors in a physical exam, by the time it is detected, it has spread to other organs. CA19- 9 is a substanced released into the blood by cancer cells, but, by the time this substance is detected, the cancer is no longer in its earliest stages. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer may seem like symptoms of other diseases. In people with high risk of pancreatic cancer, due to genetic factors, endoscopic ultrasound can be used to try to detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage. Symptoms may include, jaundice which is a yellowing of the eyes and skin, darkening of the urine from bilirubin, as the bile duct gets compressed by the tumor in the pancreas, lighter stools, abdominal or back pain, weight loss, digestive problems, diabetes and gall bladder enlargement.

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