What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the most common pancreatic cancer, says Charles St. Hill, MD, an oncologist at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he says that survival rates of this cancer are low.
Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that develops in the tissues of the pancreas. The pancreas is located in the abdomen and aids in digestion. It produces enzymes that help the body digest food and hormones, including insulin, that help control blood sugar levels in the body.
Pancreatic cancer is cancer that develops within the pancreas, the gland about six inches long that is responsible for making hormones, including the enzymes responsible for the digestion of food and control of blood sugar. Pancreatic cancer develops when cells within the pancreas begin to grow out of control and form a pancreatic mass. It may spread, or metastasize, to nearby lymph nodes and organs such as the liver and lungs. As the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer.
Ajay K. Sahajpal, MD
Transplant Surgery
Technically any cancer that originates from cells within the pancreas.  Generally, people refer to the most common type which is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Other primary pancreatic tumors can occur such as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, which come from cells similar to the insulin producing cells within the pancreas.

Pancreatic cancer is a cancer of the pancreas, a small organ found behind your stomach. In pancreatic cancer, cancer cells form a tumor in the pancreas that interferes with the normal function of the organ and may spread to other parts of the body.

The pancreas is part of the digestive system, making enzymes needed for digestion. It also produces hormones that help your body use sugars.

Over 32,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with pancreatic cancer, most often in late-stage disease. The incidence in the US and Europe is rising for as-yet undetermined reasons, but may be linked to obesity and rising levels of environmental toxins.

The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach and in front of the spine which produces digestive juices and hormones, including insulin and glucagon, which help control blood sugar levels. The pancreas is also crucial with helping the body store and use energy from food after it aids with digestion.

About 95% of all cases of pancreatic cancer begin in the cells that produce digestive juices, called exocrine pancreas cells. These cells are located in the head of the pancreas. Other pancreatic tumors begin in the islet or endocrine cells.

Continue Learning about Pancreatic Cancer

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.