Andy Rourke, The Smiths bassist, dies from pancreatic cancer: Signs and symptoms of the condition

Andy Rourke, who has died from pancreatic cancer. (Getty Images)
Andy Rourke has died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. (Getty Images)

The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke has died aged 59 after battling pancreatic cancer," his former bandmate Johnny Marr has shared.

"It is with deep sadness that that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer," guitarist Marr tweeted on Friday morning.

"Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans. We request privacy at this sad time."

Marr also shared a heartfelt tribute to his childhood "best friend" and the talented musician on Instagram, with a series of moving throwback photos.

So, with cases of pancreatic cancer on the rise, what exactly is the disease and what are the symptoms to be aware of?

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer can be found anywhere in your pancreas, the organ in the top part of your stomach. It helps you to digest food and makes hormones like insulin.

The severity of pancreatic cancer depends where it is located, how big it is, if it has spread, and your general health.

Pancreatic cancer symptoms

Known as the 'silent killer', this type of cancer may not have any symptoms at all, or they might be hard to spot, which is why it's important to be extra-vigilant.

When symptoms do present, they can include, according to the NHS:

  • The whites of your eyes or your skin turning yellow (jaundice)

  • Itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual

  • Loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to

  • Feeling tired or having no energy

  • A high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery

Young man having stomach ache, painful area highlighted in red
Symptoms can be similar to those of IBS. (Getty Images)

Symptoms affecting your digestion, can include:

  • Feeling or being sick

  • Diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo

  • Pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you're eating or lying down and better when you lean forward

  • Symptoms of indigestion, like feeling bloated

If you have another condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you may already experience these symptoms regularly. But if they change, get worse, or don't feel normal, get them checked.

Jaundice symptoms, yellow skin and eyes. (Getty Images)
Jaundice can be a sign of pancreatic cancer. (Getty Images)

Getting help

Call 111 now if:

  • The whites of your eyes or your skin has turned yellow

  • You're being sick for more than two days

  • You have diarrhoea for more than seven days

  • You have symptoms that you're worried about, but are not sure where to get help

See a GP if you have:

  • Lost a noticeable amount of weight over the last six to 12 months without trying

  • Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer that get worse or don't get better after two weeks

  • A condition that causes symptoms with your digestion that aren't getting better after two weeks of using usual treatments

While these symptoms can be common, and don't necessarily mean you have pancreatic cancer, getting them checked is key, because if you do, the disease is easier to treat early.

For support, call Pancreatic Cancer UK on 0808 801 0707 or fill out the charity's online form.

Watch: Italian soccer legend Gianluca Vialli dies of pancreatic cancer