Olivia Williams discusses ‘bizarre’ symptom of pancreatic cancer
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Cancer remains a global health challenge due to its evasive nature, but the problem often boils down to late diagnosis. This is particularly true for treatment-resistant diseases like pancreatic cancer, which progresses at breakneck speed. Spotting signs of thrombus, however, could potentially tip the odds of survival in a patient’s favour.
Pancreatic is among the deadliest cancer to cure or treat because it naturally evades common treatments.
In fact, nearly 95 percent of those diagnosed with the disease succumb to it, partly because symptoms are rare in the early stages.
It is often picked up in the advanced stages when jaundice or abdominal pain has already resulted, but sometimes these signs are preceded by thrombus.
The medical term describes blood clots that have formed within the body’s vascular system and impede blood flow, usually in the lower part of the body.
READ MORE: The ‘first sign’ that affects ‘most people’ with pancreatic cancer
It is often an initial sign of the disease because tumours in the pancreas can quickly induce a hypercoagulable state.
In fact, pancreatic cancer is one of few that has the unique ability to induce a hypercoagulable state that is associated with clinically significant thrombosis in patients.
When a person’s blood develops an abnormal tendency to coagulate it develops a higher risk of clotting.
The American Cancer Society explains: “Sometimes, the first clue that someone has pancreatic cancer is a blood clot in a large vein, often in one leg.”
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The Lustgarten Foundation of Pancreatic Cancer Research, adds: “These clots occur in the veins and can block blood flow.
“They can occur in the legs (deep vein thrombosis), lung (pulmonary embolism) or organs such as the pancreas itself or liver (portal vein thrombosis.”
According to the NHS, deep vein thrombosis is characterised by the following symptoms:
Throbbing or cramping pain in one leg, usually in the calf or thigh
- Swelling in one leg
- Warm skin around the painful area
- Red or darkened skin around the painful area
- Swollen veins that are hard or sore when you touch them.
When a clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, it may cause other symptoms like chest pain and difficulty breathing.
“Still, having a blood clot does not usually mean that you have cancer,” adds the American Cancer Society.
It adds: “Other things cause most blood clots.”
It may therefore be prudent to look for other suspicious signs like the sudden onset of diabetes or jaundice, which can also be symptomatic of a tumour growing in the pancreas.
In fact, the majority of people with pancreatic cancer will experience jaundice as one of their first symptoms.
When the blood clot blocks the bile duct it may cause a build-up of bilirubin in the blood which is a major cause of jaundice.
As the dark yellow substance bilirubin builds up in the liver, urine may become darker and stools could become light-coloured.
Due to the lack of effective treatment measures for pancreatic cancer, preventing the disease is the best course of action.
Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, avoiding cigarette smoking and limiting alcohol intake are good prevention tips.
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