The importance of acting on the early warning signs of cancer has been brought into sharp relief in a new documentary aired on ITV. Daniel Kennedy, from South Manchester, lost his dad, Paul Kennedy, to pancreatic cancer last year. Paul was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer in 2019 and passed away just three months after his diagnosis on 2nd April 2020.
What should you be looking for?
Pancreatic cancer may not have any symptoms, or they might be hard to spot.
According to the NHS, symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:
- The whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow (jaundice), you may also have itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual
- Loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
- Feeling tired or having no energy
- A high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery.
According to the health body, other symptoms can affect your digestion, such as feeling or being sick, diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo.
“If you have another condition like irritable bowel syndrome you may get symptoms like these regularly,” it notes.
Am I at risk?
Your risk of developing cancer depends on many things including age, genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors.
Doctors don’t know what causes most pancreatic cancers. But there are some factors that may increase your risk of developing it.
Having any of these risk factors does not mean that you will definitely develop cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, pancreatic cancer is more common in older people. “Almost half of all new cases are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over. Pancreatic cancer is uncommon in people under 40 years old.”
According to the charity, around 20 out of 100 cases of pancreatic cancer in the UK (around 20 perecent) are caused by smoking.
“Cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco all increase pancreatic cancer risk,” it warns.
The best way for people who smoke to reduce their risk of cancer and improve their overall health, is therefore to stop smoking completely.
“The risk of pancreatic cancer in people who stopped smoking 20 years ago is the same as for people who have never smoked,” adds Cancer Research UK.
Other risk factors include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Family cancer syndromes and genetic factors
- Other medical conditions.