CATCHING cancer earlier is one of the most effective ways to improve survival.
But some cancers are harder to spot, meaning for thousands of people with the disease let it go unnoticed until it's too late.
Each year, some 8,800 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK – one every hour.
It is the fifth biggest cancer killer in the country, responsible for 5.2 percent of cancer deaths.
The disease took the lives of our beloved Alan Rickman, Luciano Pavarotti and Aretha Franklin.
By the time you have symptoms, have gone to your GP and been diagnosed, the cancer tends to be quite advanced.
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Only eight out of 100 people can have surgery to have their pancreas removed – which gives them the best chance of cure.
Dr Jiri Kubes, of the cancer treatment facility the Proton Therapy Center, in Prague, Czech Republic, has revealed some of the subtle signs of the disease in the early stages that can raise the alarm that something is not quite right.
1. Loss of appetite
"Losing your appetite is common in the early stages," Dr Jiri explained.
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This can happen because of pressure from a pancreatic cyst or tumour on the stomach that causes a block in the digestive tract.
2. Unexplained weight loss
The expert said that weight loss is also common during the early stages.
This tends to be a normal symptom of many cancers as the disease consumes the body's energy.
3. High temperature
Experiencing a fever is a rare symptom of the disease which happens when the tumour causes an infection.
"Many people with pancreatic cancer have fatigue at some point," Dr Jiri said.
The cancer itself can cause fatigue, although experts still don’t fully understand how or why this happens.
“You may also notice yellowing of the skin or eyes, also known as jaundice, while darker urine or paler stools can also be a red flag," he explained.
This is because pancreatic cancer can block the liver's bile, which leads to jaundice.
“It’s important to note that many of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer can also be caused by other, less serious illnesses, so if you suspect anything is wrong you should see your GP immediately," DR Jiri said.
“Having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have pancreatic cancer, but the disease is more treatable if detected early enough so it’s vital to be aware.”
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According to leading charity Pancreatic Cancer UK, the disease has a five-year survival rate of less than five percent, it has the worst survival rate of any of the 21 most common cancers.
Located just behind the stomach, the pancreas is about the size of a hand and creates enzymes to break down sugars, fats and starches during the digestion process.
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