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Monday, October 5, 2015
Is this pancreatic cancer?
Hi, My mom is 55 years old and has been suffering for several months with some serious symptoms. She has had a lack of appetite, nausea, extreme tiredness (she can sleep 20 hours a day), change in bowel movements, depression, itchiness (on her legs specifically) and has lost about 20 lbs in 4-5 months. She just moved to a new city and went to see a doctor who did some blood work. Her hemoglobin level was 88. Her doctor then sent her to have a CT scan done which showed a lesion on her pancreas. He has told her that it is pancreatic cancer, but he is only a family physician and does not answer any of her questions. In general, he has been very unhelpful. I am worried because everything I have read. Everything seems to say that speed of treatment is of the essence, and she is not getting in to see any specialist for at least a month. My question is, is there a good chance that this is pancreatic cancer or could it be something else?
I would have your family doctor refer her to either a surgeon specializing in pancreatic surgery or a gastroenterologist who can perform ERCP. You can find out what specialists are present in her city by going to various websites. One is Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Syed A Ahmad, MD
Associate Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati