Pancreatic cancer symptoms: Pain in these two areas of the body could be a sign

Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas, a large gland that’s part of the digestive system. According to Pancreatic Cancer UK, around 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year. As is the case with all cancers, the success of treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and where it has spread so spotting warning signs as soon as they appear is vital.


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Unfortunately a tumour in the pancreas does not usually cause any symptoms in the early stages, according to the NHS.

When the cancer has progressed however, you may experience pain in the stomach area or back.

Cancer Research UK explains: “People describe it as a dull pain that feels as if it is boring into you. It can begin in the stomach area and spread around to the back.”

The charity says the pain is worse when you lie down and is better if you sit forward and it can be worse after meals.

It adds: “Some people may only have back pain. This is often felt in the middle of the back, and is persistent.”

How common is the symptom?

Almost seven out of 10 people (70 percent) with pancreatic cancer go to their doctors because they have pain.

Other main warning signs

  • According to the NHS, other noticeable signs include:
  • Unexpected weight loss

Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice) – it also may cause dark Yellow or orange pee, pale-coloured poo and itchy skin

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Other possible symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Feeling sick and being sick
  • Changes in bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Fever and shivering
  • Indigestion
  • Blood clots

“It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be caused by many different conditions and are not usually the result of cancer,” explains the health site.

It adds: “But you should contact a GP if you’re concerned or these symptoms start suddenly.”

Am I at risk?

Doctors don’t know what causes most pancreatic cancers but there are some factors that may increase your risk of developing it.


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According to Cancer Research UK, one of the gravest threats comes from smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco.

A large Cancer Research UK study looking at lifestyle factors found that nearly one in three pancreatic cancers (about 30 percent) may be linked to smoking.

Research has shown that exposure to second hand smoke doesn’t increase your risk of pancreatic cancer, however.

There is some research that suggests there is a link to eating a poor diet too although evidence is yet to account for this association.

Research has specifically linked red or processed meat to pancreatic cancer.

A study showed that pancreatic cancer risk was higher in men who ate more red meat a day compared to those who ate no red meat.

The same study also showed that both men and women who eat more processed meat have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.

In addition to lifestyle factors, pancreatic cancer can run in the family but this only accounts for between five and 10 in 100 of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, says Cancer Research UK.

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