According to research, "over a quarter of survey respondents (26%) have delayed visiting their doctor over something they consider to be embarrassing". More than a fifth (21%) "have delayed visiting their GP before, to later be diagnosed with a health condition, which could have been diagnosed earlier".
This is especially alarming as changes in stools can be one of the symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer.
Pale and smelly stools that don’t flush easily is common and according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network “many pancreatic cancer patients experience diarrhoea,
constipation or both. Diarrhoea consisting of loose, watery, oily or foul-smelling stools can be caused by insufficient amounts of pancreatic enzymes in the intestines. This leads to malabsorption as undigested food passes quickly through the digestive tract. Constipation is also a common problem, particularly in patients taking pain medications. These medications slow the passage of food through the intestines. If the digestive system works too slowly, it can cause stools to become dry, hard and difficult to pass.” In addition, poo can also change colour and become lighter and more yellow.
The message is clear: if you notice or have noticed any changes in your poo, contact your GP straight away.
If you or your friends and family know this and the other symptoms of pancreatic cancer, there is a greater chance of early diagnosis and treatment.