Advertisement

Why can pancreatic cancer cause diarrhea?

John A. Chabot
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Diarrhea results when the nutrients in food are not absorbed properly. When this occurs, stool can become loose, watery, oily and foul-smelling. Pancreatic enzymes are responsible for digesting fatty foods. If a tumor blocks the pancreatic duct, insufficient pancreatic juices in the intestines can lead to poor absorption and diarrhea, as the undigested food passes quickly through the digestive tract. If this happens, stool may float due to the higher fat content, appear bulky, greasy, and unusually pale. 
The pancreas is a gland that aids in digestion of protein. It does so by secreting enzymes that break down food as it moves through the digestive tract. If the gland is obstructed by a tumor, it cannot secrete those enzymes. Therefore, the food is not broken down when it reaches the colon. That undigested food causes an increase of water in the intestines. This causes cramps and diarrhea. However, there are benign conditions that mimic these symptoms as well. 
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Continue Learning about Pancreatic Cancer

Why Is Pancreatic Cancer So Deadly?
Why Is Pancreatic Cancer So Deadly?
Pancreatic cancers are rarely detected early, are difficult to treat—and they often come back. An estimated 60,430 men and women in the United States ...
Read More
Alex Trebek, Beloved ‘Jeopardy!’ Host, Dies at the Age of 80
Alex Trebek, Beloved ‘Jeopardy!’ Host, Dies at the Age of 80
Updated on November 8, 2020 at 2:00pm EST. Alex Trebek, the legendary host of the long-running TV game-show, "Jeopardy!" has died. He was 80 years ol...
Read More
What is stage 1 pancreatic cancer?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Pancreatic cancer is a cancer of the pancreas, a small organ found behind your stomach. In pancreati...
More Answers
Why is pancreatic cancer called a silent disease?
John A. ChabotJohn A. Chabot
Pancreatic cancer is known as a "silent disease" because identifiable symptoms are not usually p...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.