Abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms of both pancreatic cancer and acute pancreatitis, which is a type of deadly inflammation, Dr. Hendifar says.
But that pain manifests in different ways depending on the underlying condition.
• If the pain seems to start in your middle before “radiating” into your middle or lower back—and if it lingers for weeks—that may be a sign of pancreatic cancer, Dr. Epperly says.
• If you’ve been on a proton-pump inhibitor for reflux or other GI issues and your symptoms don’t improve, let your doctor know. It’s common for doctors to mistake pain triggered by pancreatic cancer for reflux or other GI issues, many of which a proton-pump inhibitor should help resolve, Dr. Hendifar says.
• If pain comes on suddenly, is intense, and is focused in the middle of your abdomen, Dr. Epperly says, the issue could be acute pancreatitis.
In any case, stay calm. A lot of health issues—some serious, but many mild—can cause stomachaches or pain, Dr. Hendifar adds. Just get yourself to a doctor.