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Feeling thirsty could be a sign of pancreatic cancer – scientists warn

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

A new research paper presented at the NCRI Festival has had uncovered a number of symptoms linked to pancreatic cancer, including two previously unidentified symptoms: feeling thirsty and dark urine.

Patients often display signs of the disease up to a year before they are diagnosed, and other warning signals three months before they are diagnosed, according to the study.

The team believes that their findings will improve survival by guiding doctors in diagnosing the disease early, especially when patients come with a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms.

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest five-year survival rate of any common cancer, with a five-year survival rate of roughly 7%. Unfortunately, most patients with pancreatic cancer are identified late in the disease’s progression.

To better understand the early signs of pancreatic cancer, Dr Weiqi Liao and his colleagues analyzed data from 24,236 patients who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK between 2000 and 2017 using a large electronic database (QResearch).

They compared the symptoms of patients before they were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to those of other patients who were not diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and stomach or intestinal bleeding were the two most significant symptoms associated with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the most prevalent kind of pancreatic cancer, and pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PNEN), a rarer type of pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, feeling thirsty and dark urine were discovered to be previously unknown indicators of PDAC by the researchers.

The study, which is the largest of its kind, discovered 23 symptoms associated with PDAC diagnosis (yellowing of the skin, bleeding in the stomach or intestine, problems swallowing, diarrhea, change in bowel habits, vomiting, indigestion, abdominal mass, abdominal pain, weight loss, constipation, fat in stool, abdominal swelling, nausea, flatulence, heartburn, fever, tiredness, appetite loss, itching, back pain, thirst, and dark urine). PNEN has been linked to nine symptoms (yellowing of the skin, blood in stool, diarrhea, change in bowel habits, vomiting, indigestion, abdominal mass, abdominal pain, and weight loss).

While the majority of the symptoms were not particular to pancreatic cancer and might have been caused by other benign illnesses, the researchers discovered that individuals with pancreatic cancer had a greater risk of experiencing certain of these non-specific symptoms one year before diagnosis.

Although this is one of the largest studies of its kind, the oldest data did not contain the stage of the patients’ cancer when they were identified, so the researchers were unable to investigate which symptoms were related with early-stage disease and which with late-stage disease. Furthermore, because PNEN is a rarer malignancy, there is only a limited amount of data accessible during the study period, making it more difficult for researchers to spot additional potential signs.

Dr. Liao is now collaborating with other researchers to compare these findings to symptom data from different patient groups.

These findings could now be used to enhance QCancer, a risk prediction model developed from the QResearch database to assist GPs in identifying high-risk patients for additional cancer diagnostic testing.

Image Credit: Getty

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