What are common symptoms of ampullary cancer?

Symptoms Ampullary Cancer

By: Dr. Thomas Incledon

What are common symptoms of ampullary cancer?

As part of the digestive tract, the Ampulla of Vater where ampullary cancer is found, acts in concert with other organs to properly digest food and filter waste in the body. Many symptoms of ampullary cancer can be attributed to things other than cancer and to other types of cancer, so it is important for people to be aware of the entire list of common symptoms. If you or someone you love is experiencing multiple symptoms of ampullary cancer at once, you will want to see a physician immediately to understand what is going on in the body. Ampullary cancer symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Itchy skin
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • GI bleeding
  • Back pain
  • Pancreatitis

There are also more advanced symptoms like pale or greasy stools, which are caused by an inability of the body to break down fat. Jaundice, the yellowing of the eyes and skin, is another sign that the digestive system is not working properly, and cancer may be present.

Jaundice is one way that ampullary cancer is diagnosed; when an oncologist sees someone with changes to skin and eye color, they will test for cancer. They usually do this via blood test. “We are looking for markers in the blood that may be elevated to help determine what’s happening,” says Dr. Tom Incledon, Founder and CEO of Causenta. “There are also urine tests that can be done to help with a diagnosis.

If a patient is found to have ampullary cancer, there are additional tests that can help give perspective to an individual’s case. These are MRIs, ultrasounds, and CT scans. In some cases, oncologists will use a camera on a scope to look inside a patient. All of these diagnostic tools can help doctors see things structurally; they can see where the cancer is and what shape it is. They are especially helpful before surgery, allowing surgeons to plan the operation in advance to have the best chance of removing all the ampullary cancer cells.

Academy Award winning actress Karen Black, who was known for her roles in films such as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and The Great Gatsby, lost her battle with ampullary cancer in 2013. She was diagnosed in 2010 after experiencing common symptoms. During her battle with the rare cancer, she lost the use of her leg, which is a side effect that can be common as cancer spreads in the body affecting the bones and circulation. “Because people with ampullary cancer don’t find out they have it until it has progressed to more advanced stages, the occurrence of major symptoms like this is more common,” explains Incledon. “At Causenta, we always pay attention to blood coagulation and inflammation in the body to try to prevent these sorts of issues for our patients with ampullary cancer. We look at all the details because we believe those details matter.”

For more information about ampullary cancer and treatment at Causenta, schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation today.


Get the latest news in medical technology, strength training, exercise, and nutrition.


For current patients, please send a secure message via The Patient Portal. New patients should complete our contact form to schedule a consult with the appropriate person.


8131 E Indian Bend Rd #126
Scottsdale, AZ 85250