Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer, with a survival rate of just 11%. It’s an aggressive form of cancer that grows and spreads rapidly. That’s why it’s so important to know the signs and take action immediately.
While it’s true that pancreatic cancer can be difficult to detect—especially in its early stages—there are many red flags that indicate that you may be at risk. If you notice any of the following, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Know the Signs
1. You’ve Had a Recent Change in Your Eating Habits
Have you noticed any changes in your eating habits? If so, you should speak with your medical provider right away. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, some of the first indications of pancreatic cancer are changes in appetite.
It’s not uncommon for patients to struggle with appetite and weight. In fact, it’s normal to experience weight loss with pancreatic cancer.
If you find that you’ve been struggling with persistent and unexplained weight loss, opting for lighter meals, or have a sudden aversion to specific foods, it’s worth taking the time to have an examination and testing to rule out pancreatic cancer. 
A common sign among pancreatic cancer patients is abdominal pain. The pain often occurs after eating. In fact, it’s immediately after eating that the pain typically becomes worse. The pain may be felt in the upper chest, abdomen, or back. This type of pain is sometimes referred to as epigastric pain.
If you suddenly experience severe abdominal pain after you eat, it’s important to seek medical care right away. While it could be linked to something else entirely, the possibility of pancreatic cancer is too serious to ignore.
3. Blood Clots
Blood clots are more likely to form in your veins when you’re diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. What makes blood clots infinitely more serious in pancreatic cancer patients is the combination of cancer treatment.
Known as DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, these blood clots can eventually travel to your lungs and cause breathing difficulties. Keep reading for more information on this topic and how it relates to pancreatic cancer patients.
4. You Have a Low BMI
A low body mass index (BMI) may be a sign of pancreatic cancer. A person’s BMI is a measure of their weight in relation to height. If you have a low BMI, it means that you have a low percentage of body fat, and your weight is at the lower end of the healthy range for your height.
This can indicate cancer, especially since CACS, or cancer anorexia-cachexia syndrome, and emaciation are also signs of pancreatic cancer.
Moreover, approximately 80% of patients who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer experience severely low BMI. And it’s this onset that is largely responsible for those patients’ low survival rate.
Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by elevated bilirubin levels in the blood. It’s common for pancreatic cancer patients to experience jaundice. Jaundice can be a symptom of pancreatic cancer.
The jaundice that accompanies pancreatic cancer is typically caused by bile spilling into the bloodstream from tissue damage caused by an obstruction in the ducts that lead to the small intestine.
6. Your Stools Are Light or Greasy
Similar to the onset of jaundice, your intestines don’t receive sufficient liquids from your pancreas when you have pancreatic cancer. This leads to your stool looking noticeably different compared to normal conditions.
If you see that your stool has suddenly changed its usual consistency and color, it’s time to see your doctor and explain your concern.
7. Chest Pain
You might notice that you have pain in your chest, which is often a side effect of blood clots. When a piece of one of your blood clots breaks loose, it can travel up and into your lungs. This leads to trouble breathing and accompanying chest pain.
If this happens, it can be very serious. When part of a blood clot ends up in your lungs, it’s referred to as a pulmonary embolism (PE). Seek medical care immediately to avoid further health complications.
Depression is a very common symptom of pancreatic cancer. If you notice that you are feeling persistently sad, apathetic, and can’t find any joy in life following a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, don’t feel alarmed.
Most people with similar diagnoses experience depression. What’s important is that you have a strong support network in place to assist you during these challenging times. The difference that caring, supportive friends and family make cannot be overstated.
Fatigue is often a sign that your body isn’t getting enough rest. But it can also be an indication that your pancreas is not producing enough insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels properly.
If you experience extreme fatigue or lethargy and can’t understand why, talk to your doctor right away. Most patients who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will struggle with these symptoms of tiredness during some point.
While your experience might be different, it’s important to seek medical counsel if you feel fatigued for more than a few days. 
10. Dark Urine
Dark urine is the result of cancer spreading to the liver. This is a common occurrence among pancreatic cancer patients. In many cases, you will notice dark urine just before jaundice (discussed above) sets in.
The two are typically linked, so keep a close eye on urine changes and skin discolorations. Let your doctor know the moment you notice anything is off.
If you notice any of the following signs, you should seek medical attention right away. If you ignore any of the following signs, it could be a red flag that something much worse is going on. While pancreatic cancer is a serious medical condition with low survival rates, you should never put off telling your medical provider about your concerns.
The sooner medical treatment can be provided, the better chance you have of overcoming your diagnosis.