Cancer Keys: RUQ Pain in Pancreatic Cancer

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Pancreatic cancer diagnoses can be missed due to the non-site specific nature of some early symptoms. However, according to CRUK, up to 70% of patients with pancreatic cancer initially visit the doctor with upper abdominal or back pain.

Potential Pitfall

Pain often presents in the right upper quadrant (RUQ pain). It can begin as general discomfort, such as pressure under the ribs or pain in the abdomen radiating to the back, similar to a pulled muscle or stomach cramps. Patients may note that sitting forward can sometimes relieve the pain but can worsen when lying down or after eating, especially with fatty foods.

Helpful hint

In line with NICE guidelines, the presentation of back or abdominal pain in people aged 60 and over combined with weight loss should be considered for an urgent direct access CT scan to assess for pancreatic cancer (to be performed within 2 weeks), or an urgent ultrasound scan if CT is not available.

 

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