Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Whether it’s someone you know, someone you love or someone you’ve heard about, like Michael Landon or Patrick Swayze, and more recently Alex Trebek and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, most of us have been touched by pancreatic cancer. It’s often silent in the early stages, making it harder to diagnose when the cancer may be more receptive to treatment.
The symptoms can be subtle, and many people ignore them or think they are due to another less serious medical condition. The most common and classic symptom of pancreatic cancer is painless jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin or eyes.
“Sometimes symptoms will get the attention of the person affected, but it’s often brought up to the patient by the people around them who notice it first,” says Julie Koffron, MD, fellowship trained pancreatic surgeon with University Surgical Associates. “After talking through how they’ve been feeling over the past few months, many people will recognize other vague symptoms that could have helped these individuals’ cancer be identified at an earlier stage.”