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Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreas and spleen (revised)

10/05/2009

Question:

Hello, I just sent a question in that need roughly a day or so ago that needed a bit of revising. This is the updated version. Thanks.

First and foremost I`d like to state that I`m 27 years old. Anyways, due to some concerns about digestive problems and the state of my pancreas, I was recently given a CT Scan (although my physician was reluctant to order one) which I was told was "within normal." I then asked for further details and was told that everything looked fine but there was a "possible small cyst in the spleen which is essentially normal" and that I shouldn`t be concerned. Well, of course, I am, especially in conjunction w/ my other noted symptoms which include weight loss, clumpy,loose stools (steatorrhea maybe?) which have subsided somewhat (undigested food present sometimes as well indicating malabsorption of some sort), occasionally urine that seems a bit darker/more pronounced in color (still yellow) and recently, nagging-- albeit mild-- abdominal discomfort/indigestion. I`ve not well versed in matters of the spleen, I know it`s in the general vicinity of the pancreas, etc. so could this a cause for concern in relation to possible pancreatic cancer? What I mean to say is, is it unlikely for the "possible cyst" to be the only thing to show up on the scan if it`s cancer of the pancreas? In most cases, does the scan reveal more extensive damage to surrounding areas (especially when potential symptoms are already present)? I also suffer from acute anxiety which has me torn as far as pursuing this further. Blood and stool tests came back ok as well.

Answer:

Splenic cysts are very common problems and do not need any further workup. The chance of you having pancreatic cancer is extremely low based on your age. Your symptoms may be related to irritable bowel syndrome which can be exacerbated by stress and/or anxiety. If you are worried about your symptoms, I would suggest you seek a consultation with a gastroenterologist.

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Response by:

Syed A Ahmad, MD Syed A Ahmad, MD
Associate Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati