We are all familiar with jaundice. The eyes get yellow and urine gets extremely dark. This is usually due to hepatitis A or other diseases which are not life-threatening and can easily be managed. Stones in the bile duct can also cause jaundice. But sometimes this jaundice can be an indicator for a more dangerous disease. Cancer. Tumors of the pancreas, gallbladder, liver, bile duct and other neighboring organs can cause jaundice. This may be the only significant sign and may require further evaluation to rule out malignancy.
Although only a minority of patients with jaundice may have cancer, additional signs like weight loss, a loss of appetite, and abdominal pain can help the doctor narrow down the possibilities. Prompt tests and treatment will help such patients attain best possible outcomes, and possibly a cure.
There is no need to panic if one gets jaundice since it is usually a minor issue. However, if jaundice is not subsiding within a week and symptoms are worsening, it is a good idea to consult a physician who might refer the patient to a surgeon, gastroenterologist or oncologist. Even a perfectly healthy individual with no ‘risk factors’ can be affected, so let us be aware so that we can detect and fight this disease as early as possible.