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Pancreatic cancer: Malaise is a common early symptom of the disease – what is it?

Olivia Williams discusses ‘bizarre’ symptom of pancreatic cancer

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Pancreatic cancer is the 11th most common cancer in the UK and accounts for three in 100 of all new cancer cases. There are certain symptoms that you should consult your doctor about, if you experience them. The initial symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often quite nonspecific and subtle in onset.

Malaise refers to an overall feeling of discomfort and lack of well-being.

  • Fatigue is extreme tiredness and lack of energy or motivation for everyday activities.
  • Sometimes, malaise happens suddenly.
  • Other times, it may develop gradually and persist for a long period. 

Malaise may also cause:

  • A feeling of overall weakness
  • A feeling of discomfort
  • A feeling like you have an illness
  • Simply not feeling well.

Fatigue may be caused by the pancreatic cancer or the symptoms of the cancer, or it may be a side effect of treatment.

Fatigue is a very common symptom of cancer and is often called cancer-related fatigue, said Pancreatic Cancer UK.

The health charity added: “The cancer itself can cause fatigue, although we don’t fully understand how or why this happens.

“People may have fatigue when they are diagnosed, even before they start treatment.”

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.

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

Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include:

  • Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
  • Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • Light-coloured stools
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Itchy skin
  • New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that’s becoming more difficult to control
  • Blood clots
  • Fatigue.

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