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Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms and Complications

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth deadliest cancer in the United States. Ninety-four percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within five years of diagnosis and 75 percent of these patients die within the first year they are diagnosed. It is the cancer with the highest mortality rate of all major cancers.

A main reason this disease is so deadly is that it usually is diagnosed only after it has spread beyond the pancreas to other organs and tissues in the body. By this time, it is very hard to treat. The pancreas is an organ deep within the body behind the lower part of the stomach. Early tumors are difficult for the physician to feel. The tumors are most often found on an X-ray such as a CT (computed tomography) scan or an MRI (magnetic resonance image).

Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

While surgery offers the best chance for patients to survive, just 15 percent of patients are good candidates for an operation because the disease has spread too widely. In addition, 80 percent of those who have surgery experience a recurrence and die within five years of diagnosis.

Research on pancreatic cancer is sorely needed according to a 2011 fact sheet on the disease published on by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Only 2 percent of the budget of the National Cancer Institute was allocated to pancreatic cancer research in 2011.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

One reason the disease is not detected in its early stages is that symptoms are common to numerous diseases and conditions. The most common symptoms are:

  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes and the skin (jaundice)
  • Abnormal stools
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain that starts in the upper abdomen, but may feel as if it's going through your body to your back
  • Poor appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Enlarged gallbladder
  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes

Complications of Pancreatic Cancer

As the cancer progresses, complications that often occur are:

  • Jaundice: If the tumor or tumors block the bile duct of the liver, in addition to yellowing of the eyes and skin, signs might also be dark-colored urine and pale-colored stools
  • Pain which happens when a tumor grows and presses upon nerves in the abdomen. This pain may become severe. Sometimes radiation is used to halt tumor growth temporarily. A procedure called a celiac plexus block prevents the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. This involves injecting alcohol into the nerves.
  • Bowel obstruction can occur when a tumor presses into the small intestine, preventing food from leaving the stomach and entering the intestines. Sometimes surgery is used to place a stent in the small intestine to keep it open or bypass surgery is done to attach the stomach to a lower part of the intestine below the blockage.
  • Loss of weight because nausea and vomiting can make it difficult to eat. Or, the impaired pancreas cannot produce the enzymes needed to digest food.

To combat weight loss, the patient should eat high calorie foods and be helped to enjoy mealtime as much as possible.

Januvia Pancreatic Cancer Lawsuits

If you or a loved one was treated with Januvia or a similar drug such as Byetta and have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you may qualify to file a Januvia cancer lawsuit. There have been studies showing a possible connection between taking these medications and this deadly cancer. Our attorneys are currently investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of Januvia users who are suffering from the results of this painful and debilitating cancer.

Although a lawsuit may not be able to reverse the damage that has been done, it can help you secure compensation to pay for expensive medical care and to help you meet your financial responsibilities such as your mortgage and other bills. To schedule a consultation with an experienced Januvia lawyer, please contact us today. We will discuss your specific circumstances and let you know if you are eligible for compensation.

Januvia® (sitagliptin) is a Type 2 diabetes medication manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc. Januvia® is a registered trademark of Merck & Co., Inc.

Januvia® News

  • Januvia Sales Drop for the Quarter

    May 1st, 2013

    Sales of Merck's Januvia, a diabetes medication and the company's biggest seller, dropped for the first quarter of the year. The news, which was reported May 1, was surprising, Reuters said. Merck also lowered its full-year forecast today. Merck sales for the quarter dropped 9 percent to $10.7 billion, according to reports. That number is well below the $11.09 billion the market was expecting. The drug company... read more

  • Public Citizen Urges FDA to Ban Januvia Because of Cancer Risk

    April 15th, 2013

    Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, issued a statement last month, addressing the risk of precancerous changes in the pancreases of diabetic patients who use diabetes drugs Januvia (sitagliptin), Byetta (exenatide) and Victoza (liraglutide). According to the statement, Drs. Alexandra Butler and Peter Butler of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and colleagues published a study in the journal "Diabetes," showing... read more