Diagnosing pancreatic cancer usually happens when someone comes to the doctor after experiencing weeks or months of symptoms. Pancreatic cancer symptoms frequently include abdominal pain, weight loss, itching, or jaundice (yellow skin). A doctor then embarks on a search for the cause, using the tools of the trade: By taking a medical history, a doctor learns the story of the illness, such as the time of onset, nature and location of pain, smoking history, and other medical problems. During a physical exam, a doctor might feel a mass in the abdomen and notice swollen lymph nodes in the neck, jaundiced skin, or weight loss. Lab tests may show evidence that bile flow is being blocked, or other abnormalities.