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When it comes to the organs that you know you need to monitor your heart, brain, and organs Colon will likely jump to the head of your mind. "Not so much.
But the long-standing Jeopardy! Alex Trebek, brought some much-needed attention to the overlooked organ after announcing that he had pancreatic cancer in the Stage 4. The host shared the news in a video message on March 6.
Although pancreatic cancer is rarer than other forms of the disease, it is also one of the deadliest, and the survival rate of stage 4 pancreatic cancer is particularly low. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 55,440 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018 and 44,330 will die from it Only about eight percent of people with pancreatic cancer survive five years after their first diagnosis, according to the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER). The 5-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer is three percent. Once the patients are at this stage, the cancer has spread to other organs such as the liver or lungs.
What's more frightening? Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect and is not subject to routine screening. In addition, it may spread to other organs early on, explains Daniel M. Labow, MD, FACS, chairman of the Department of Surgery at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai St. Luke's, and chief of surgical oncology and hepatobiliary surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
While not everyone with pancreatic cancer has early symptoms, knowing what to look for can help doctors treat them as quickly as possible, which greatly improves your chances of survival. Here are eight possible signs of pancreatic cancer – including some that your doctor has probably never told you.
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Your skin and your eyes turn yellow.
Jaundice is the result of an accumulation of bilirubin or bile in your bloodstream. The bile duct penetrates the pancreas. When cancer cells grow near the pancreatic head, the tumor can compress the bile duct, causing the bile to re-enter the bloodstream.
If your skin and the whiteness of your eyes turn yellow, the actual color pigment of bile that flows through your blood and gets stored in skin and fat, Dr. Labow. Other symptoms associated with jaundice include darker, Coca-Cola colored urine and pale, clay-colored stools. "Bilirubin in the gut turns the bowel movement brown, and when it returns and gets into the bloodstream, it can not get into the intestine," he explains.
The pancreas plays an important role in the digestion of fats. Labow. If bile and pancreatic enzymes do not enter the intestine due to blockage (eg of a tumor) undigested fat will increase the fat content of the stool, making it greasy. It could even float on the water of your toilet.
Back pain or abdominal pain.
"The pancreas sits deep in the abdomen so that sometimes a spinal nerve irritation occurs [because of] the cancer that is there," Dr. Labow. "This can cause nagging upper middle back pain."
Most of the time, this will not be a five-alarm, agonizing pain. "Sometimes people feel like they've retired, and they think it will get better after a few days, and that's never the case," he adds.
Pancreatic cancer can also cause pancreatitis, causing inflammation of the pancreas is causing abdominal pain. You do not have to have both back and abdominal pains – that could be the case, says dr. Labow.
Fast, unexplained weight loss.
"Certain types of cancer secrete [compounds] into the blood That can cause the body to collapse," says Dr. Labow. This can lead to rapid weight loss because both the adipose tissue and the skeletal muscle have collapsed. "Even if you eat without interruption, you could never gain weight or maintain it," says Dr. Labow.
While this is true for many different types of cancer, there is another reason why, especially, pancreatic cancer can lead to rapid weight loss. "You do not absorb fats and proteins as you normally would, and even if you eat well, you do not necessarily absorb all the calories you eat," Dr. Labow.
5  Nausea and vomiting.
Cancer can generally be associated with nausea and vomiting, but is especially common in pancreatic cancer because of the important role that the pancreas plays in digestion.
"The pancreas sits near the stomach of the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine," Dr. Labow. "A large mass could press on it, which can affect the way food leaves the stomach and gets into the GI tract, so your stomach can not empty as usual."
right side of the rib cage.
In some cases, you may actually feel the gallbladder in the upper right quarter of your abdomen and stick out from under your rib cage.
"The enlargement of the gallbladder may be due to how the bile drains from the bile duct," explains dr. Labow. "When the bile duct and gallbladder are clogged [as a result of pancreatic cancer]it can sometimes cause the gallbladder to be quite large and dilated, and you can feel it."
A swollen, pulsating leg.  If any of your legs are swollen and in pain, this may be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in your body. usually in the leg.
"It is well known that cancer increases the risk of the patient's blood clots because of cancer [induce a hypercoagulable state] or something that causes you to form abnormal clots," says Dr. Labow.
This becomes especially dangerous when a blood clot breaks off and enters the lungs known as pulmonary embolism, Dr. Labow. "[Look for] any sudden respiratory distress without a good reason or a prolonged rapid heart rate for no reason," he says. A pulmonary embolism can be fatal, but it can be treated if you catch it, so have these symptoms checked immediately.
While most of the above symptoms are not normally caused by pancreatic cancer, the old saying "better than sorry" is still valid. "Any symptom that does not have a good explanation or lasts longer than a few days should be investigated in some way," Dr. Labow, even if this is just a call to your doctor.
Although pancreatic carcinomas are rare, they can cause diabetes, according to the American Cancer Society. This is because the cancer destroys insulin-producing cells. In this case, people feel thirstier or hungrier than normal. Some patients may be symptomless, but blood tests can detect changes in blood sugar levels.