Pancreatic Cancer

pancreas graphic The pancreas is a gland in the abdomen, about 6 inches long, shaped like a flat pear and surrounded by the stomach, small intestine, liver, spleen and gallbladder. The pancreas is both an exocrine gland and endocrine gland, and it has two main functions: digestion and blood sugar regulation.

Pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells within the pancreas grow out of control and form a tumor. These cells could be either exocrine or endocrine.

More than 95 percent of pancreatic cancers are classified as exocrine tumors. These tumors start in the exocrine cells that make pancreatic enzymes that help in digestion. Within this category, the majority of tumors are adenocarcinomas.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pancreatic NETs or PNETs) account for less than 5 percent of all pancreatic tumors. They may be benign or malignant and tend to grow slower than exocrine tumors.

Certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer: The disease may cause only vague, unexplained symptoms. If you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms, speak to your doctor immediately and reference pancreatic cancer.

Learn more about the disease, diagnosis, treatment options and other related topics.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, call PanCAN’s Patient Services at 877-272-6226 (Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time) or email patientcentral@pancan.org to speak with a knowledgeable, compassionate case manager.

All services and resources are free of charge, thanks to PanCAN’s generous donors.

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