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Floating Poop Could Be Danger Sign

Q. I read your column about floating poop. When I experienced this about seven years ago I ignored it because there were no other symptoms. Luckily for me, I ended up in the emergency room with a kidney stone. This is likely the first time ever you have heard anybody say he was lucky to have a kidney stone.

When they performed a CT scan to find the stone, they found the cause of my floating poop–pancreatic cancer.

One of the reasons the survival rate for pancreatic cancer is so low is that it is rarely found early. By the time most people are symptomatic, it has metastasized. The tumor had blocked the bile duct just enough to cause the floating poop symptom.

I had a Whipple procedure and am one of the very few survivors of pancreatic cancer. Please tell the person with floating poop to see a doctor.

A. You are not the only reader who made a connection between “floaters” and pancreatic cancer. Several readers remembered a televised interview with the late Randy Pausch, author of “The Last Lecture,” in which he talked about this as a symptom of his pancreatic cancer.

There are other causes of floating poop, and many are not serious. Just the same, it makes sense to discuss this symptom with a physician.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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