Pancreatic cancer: Change of temperature? The lesser-known warning symptom to spot

Tom Parker discusses cancer treatment and rehabilitation

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When it comes to tell-tale signs, pancreatic cancer poses a special challenge. Often referred to as a silent disease, it typically doesn’t show any apparent signs and symptoms but experiencing a change of temperature could indicate trouble brewing.

A high temperature or fever and shivering could be a sign of pancreatic cancer.

A fever describes a high body temperature, which according to the NHS is a temperature of 37.5 degrees or more.

Fevers are the body’s natural response to fighting infections like coughs or colds.

Fevers are common and will usually get better without treatment, although in rare cases they can be a sign of something more serious.

You should therefore visit your GP if a fever has lasted a long time or if you have any other symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

One study investigated pancreatic cancer being masked as a fever.

The study involved a 63-year-old male patient who presented daily fevers, night sweats and fatigue.

A computed tomography scan demonstrated a tumour between the duodenum and pancreatic head.

Infection is the most frequent (67 percent) aetiology of fever in cancer patients, while neoplastic fever, which is caused by the tumour itself or its invasive procedure, accounts for 27 percent of the non-infectious febrile episodes, noted the study.

It concluded that pancreatic adenocarcinoma could manifest as neoplastic fever at the time of diagnosis.

According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, other potential warning symptoms to spot include:

  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Digestive problems, including abnormal stools, nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the upper abdomen, which may extend to the back
  • Appetite loss
  • Swollen gallbladder (usually found by a doctor during a physical exam)
  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes.

Doctors don’t know what causes most pancreatic cancers but there are some factors that may increase your risk of developing it.

The evidence suggests you can lower your chances of getting it by making healthy lifestyle changes.

According to Cancer Research UK, around 20 out of 100 cases of pancreatic cancer in the UK are caused by smoking.

Some research has shown that exposure to secondhand smoke does not increase your risk of pancreatic cancer, however.

According to the NHS, you should also cut down on how much red and processed meat you eat.

You should also try to cut down on alcohol and avoid drinking more than 14 units a week.

Older age is one of the main risk factors, with the cancer most commonly diagnosed in adults aged 75 and older.

Family history of cancer can also play a role, accounting for up to 10 percent of cases.
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