Senior Care Family Advisors
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South Texas Senior Care Blog

Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer 

The pancreas is a small organ, but it’s extremely important. It is responsible for helping the body to make digestive juices and hormones that keep blood sugar levels in check. Because of the importance of the pancreas, a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is extremely important. Unfortunately, the earliest signs of pancreatic cancer are usually so slight that most people miss them. As a result, pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed in its later stages when treatment isn’t as likely to be successful. Knowing the symptoms of pancreatic cancer could help get your aging relative the care they need as soon as possible. 


Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

The vast majority of pancreatic cancers occur in the exocrine cells of the pancreas, which is where the digestive juices are made. If you notice any of the following signs, the older adult should see their doctor: 

    Yellowish Eyes or Skin: When bilirubin, a substance produced by the liver, builds up, it causes the skin and whites of the eyes to take on a yellow tinge. This is called jaundice. When cancer begins close to the common bile duct, the tumor can pinch the duct making it difficult for bilirubin to escape with bile.  

    Abdominal or Back Pain: Some pancreatic cancers grow large quickly and press on the organs near the pancreas, causing pain. Pancreatic cancer can also affect the nerves near the pancreas, which can make the back hurt. 

    Weight Loss and Lack of Appetite: If the older adult loses weight without trying and has a poor appetite, these are both signs of pancreatic cancer. 

    Stools That are Light Colored or Greasy: When the bile duct becomes blocked and prevents bilirubin from escaping, it can change the color of a person’s stools. Bilirubin is what causes the brown coloring of stool, so when it is not present, stools can be grey or light in color. Fats require assistance from the pancreas to be digested, so when the pancreas isn’t able to do its job, fat is expelled with the stool, which might make it greasy and cause it to float in the toilet bowl. 

    Vomiting: When this cancer grows large enough, it can press on the end of the stomach, preventing food from getting through. As a result, the person might feel ill after eating and vomit. 


If your older adult family member is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a senior care provider can help. Senior care providers can remind the older adult to take medications the doctor prescribes. A senior care provider can also allow them to rest while they take care of things around the house, like cooking, cleaning, and laundry.  




John Largent is the Founder and CEO of Senior Care Family Advisors in San Antonio, Texas. John has served the senior care population for almost 30 years. His dedication to advocating for the elderly is supported by his active involvement in the healthcare and senior care industry throughout South and Central Texas. Contact him directly at