Why is pancreatic cancer called a silent disease?

John A. Chabot
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Pancreatic cancer is known as a "silent disease" because identifiable symptoms are not usually present in the early stages of the disease. Many symptoms of pancreatic cancer are mild at first, so patients often ignore them. Due in large part to the position of the pancreas deep in the abdomen, a pancreatic tumor can grow for years before causing pressure, pain, or other signs of illness. This can make it difficult for a patient or doctor to recognize a problem.

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Pancreatic Cancer

Often asymptomatic in the beginning, pancreatic cancer is very difficult to diagnose and typically spreads rapidly to other parts of the body.Cancer occurs when abnormal cells form in the lining of the pancreas, an organ of the en...

docrine system that is responsible for making enzymes for digestion and for producing certain hormones such as insulin. Even though only 1 in 76 people develop this disease, it is the fourth deadliest type of cancer and is difficult to cure. No one knows what causes pancreatic cancer, and even the few known risk factors are not fully understood. Visit your doctor if you have unexplained weight loss, a loss of appetite, abdominal pain that radiates up your back, or a yellow tint to your eyes or skin.
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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.