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Home > Pancreas Diseases and Treatments > Diseases of the Pancreas > Pancreatic Cancer > Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer > Ascites


Ascites is a condition in which excessive fluid builds up in the abdominal cavity causing swelling and distention of the belly. The abdominal cavity is created by the space between your organs and the abdominal wall and is surrounded by a lining called the peritoneum. In severe cases of ascites, it is possible to retain gallons of fluid in your abdominal cavity. Ascites may cause significant pain and difficulty breathing. If you suffer from ascites, your doctor may give you diuretics, or water pills, to slow down the fluid build up. In severe cases, the fluid can be drained during a procedure called paracentesis.

In Pancreatic Cancer: Ascites may occur at any stage of pancreatic cancer, but is typically associated with advanced metastatic pancreatic cancer. If the cancer spreads to the peritoneum, it can cause irritation and cause fluid to build up.

Other Causes: Pancreatic ascites can also occur if a cyst or a pseudocyst in the pancreas bursts, allowing the pancreatic juices to seep into the abdominal cavity. However, cirrhosis of the liver, and specifically alcoholic cirrhosis, is the most common cause for ascites. Cirrhosis causes a series of changes in the kidneys that prevents the body from getting rid of excess water-retaining sodium.
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