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Visiting your GP

Go to your GP if you have any symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Some people see their GP several times. If you have symptoms that last four weeks or more, go back to your GP until you get a firm diagnosis, or a referral for tests to find out what’s causing them. Download our tips to help you talk to your GP if you are worried about pancreatic cancer.

Tell your GP what symptoms you have, how often you have them and anything unusual, even if you’re not sure it’s relevant. It’s important to give your GP a good description of your symptoms.

What will the GP do?

  • Your GP may ask whether you have had any problems eating or digesting your food, or any changes with your bowels. Tell them about any pale, smelly stools (poo) that float and are difficult to flush down the toilet – this may be steatorrhea.
  • They may ask whether you have been losing weight without intending to.
  • They may check your tummy (abdomen) for any swelling and tenderness or pain.
  • They may look at your eyes and your skin for signs of jaundice, which causes yellow skin and whites of the eyes, and itching.
  • They may take a urine or blood sample.

Will the GP refer me for tests?

Your GP may make a request (refer you) for you to have tests at hospital to work out what is causing your symptoms.

If you have jaundice, your GP should refer you straight away. They should also refer you straight away for a CT scan (or ultrasound scan) if you are over 60 and have unexplained weight loss and any of the following:

  • tummy or back pain
  • nausea or vomiting (feeling or being sick)
  • diarrhoea (loose, watery stools)
  • constipation (problems opening the bowels) or
  • have been diagnosed with diabetes in the past year.

Read more about these symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

In England and Wales, if you have been referred urgently, you should be seen within two weeks of being referred. Being referred urgently does not necessarily mean that you have cancer.

If you are very unwell, your GP may send you straight to hospital.Or you may go to accident and emergency yourself, for example, if you have severe pain. Once you are in hospital, the doctors can assess your symptoms and do tests. They can also treat any symptoms.

Questions to ask

  • Will you refer me for any tests?
  • What tests will I have?
  • How long will I have to wait to have these tests?
  • Who will contact me to arrange these tests?
  • Where will I go for the tests?
  • Will I see a specialist?
  • Do I need to be referred urgently in case I have pancreatic cancer?

Tips to help you talk to your GP

Tests for pancreatic cancer

What do my test results mean? 

Information Standard

Published July 2016

Review date July 2018