Olivia Williams discusses ‘bizarre’ symptom of pancreatic cancer
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Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal diagnoses out there. This gloomy reality makes symptom detection front and centre. The condition tends to target your tummy first but warning signs can also strike on the toilet once pancreatic cancer progresses.
Being able to identify cancer in the early stages is the most effective way to ensure a good prognosis but sadly this isn’t always possible.
Pancreatic cancer starts growing in the pear-shaped gland in your tummy but tumours can eventually spread to other parts of your body, including your bones, Cancer Research UK explains.
The type of cancer that has travelled to a different location is also known as advanced cancer.
Dyschezia is one of the warning signs that pancreatic cancer tumours are taking over your bones.
READ MORE: Acholic stools are ‘the most common’ sign of pancreatic cancer in ‘initial’ stages
While a tumour that resides in this location may summon up a picture of achy and painful bones, dyschezia strikes when you go to the loo.
Dyschezia, or constipation, describes the difficulty to poo which can be linked to pain and straining.
Constipation as a symptom of advanced pancreatic cancer is triggered by high levels of calcium in your blood, according to the charity.
Dubbed as hypercalcaemia, too much calcium circulating in your bloodstream can also spur on symptoms like dehydration, confusion, sickness, and tummy pain.
While these symptoms don’t necessarily guarantee that you have advanced pancreatic cancer, they still need to be checked, according to Cancer Research UK.
Apart from constipation, tumour that has spread to your bones can also trigger signs including:
- Pain from breakdown of the bone (the pain is continuous and people often describe it as gnawing)
- Backache (gets worse despite resting)
- Weaker bones (they can break more easily)
- Low levels of blood cells (blood cells are made in the bone marrow and can be crowded out by the cancer cells, causing anaemia, increased risk of infection, bruising and bleeding).
What’s worse, advanced pancreatic cancer can also crop up in your spinal bones which can trigger pressure on your spinal cord.
Cancer research UK said: “If it isn’t treated, it can lead to weakness in your legs, numbness, paralysis and loss of bladder and bowel control (incontinence). This is called spinal cord compression.
“It is an emergency so if you have these symptoms, you need to contact your cancer specialist straight away or go to the accident and emergency department.”
The good news is that pancreatic cancer only rarely spreads to your bones. The condition prefers to attack the liver, lungs, abdomen or nearby lymph nodes instead.
However, dyschezia isn’t only associated with advanced pancreatic cancer. In fact, constipation could be one of the symptoms that crop up in the early stages.
According to the NHS, changes in your poo such as diarrhoea or constipation could point to the deadly condition.
Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer does not always show symptoms which makes it difficult to spot.
How to reduce your risk of cancer
Switching up your lifestyle habits is one of the greatest weapons that you can add to your arsenal of protection.
A healthy diet that includes colourful fruit and veg while cutting back on processed foods is key for reducing your risk of cancer.
Furthermore, other interventions like getting enough exercise, quitting smoking and lowering your alcohol intake can also be beneficial.
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