Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that is in the pancreas. Your pancreas rests in your abdomen, behind the stomach. It secretes enzymes to aid in digestion and it helps to regulate the metabolism of sugars.
Signs of pancreatic cancer may not appear until it’s already advanced, making complete surgical removal impossible. This makes pancreatic cancer one of the leading causes of cancer-related death.
Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer don’t often appear until later stages of the disease. Some signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
Pancreatic cancer occurs when the DNA of cells in your pancreas mutate. The mutations cause the cells to grow uncontrollably and to continue living after normal cells would die. The accumulated cells can form a tumor.
Most pancreatic cancer begins in the ducts of the pancreas. This cancer is called pancreatic adenocarcinoma or pancreatic exocrine cancer.
Occasionally, pancreatic cancer can form in the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas. This is islet cell cancer or pancreatic endocrine cancer.
Factors that may increase the chances of pancreatic cancer are:
Your doctor can test for pancreatic cancer using:
Your doctor can determine the stage of the cancer using:
Stages of pancreatic cancer
Using information from staging tests, your doctor assigns your pancreatic cancer a stage. The stages of pancreatic cancer are:
Treatment will depend on the staging of your pancreatic cancer. Possible treatment options include: