BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuPancreatic cancerPancreatic cancer; Cancer - pancreasPancreatic cancer is cancer that starts in the pancreas. Causes The pancreas is a large organ behind the stomach. It makes and releases enzymes into the intestines that help the body digest and absorb food, especially fats. The pancreas also makes and releases insulin and glucagon. These are hormones that help the body control blood sugar levels.There are different types of pancreatic cancers. The type depends on the cell the cancer develops in. Examples include:Adenocarcinoma, the most common type of pancreatic cancer Other more rare types include glucagonoma, insulinoma, islet cell tumor, VIPomaGlucagonomaGlucagonoma is a very rare tumor of the islet cells of the pancreas, which leads to an excess of the hormone glucagon in the blood.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article InsulinomaAn insulinoma is a tumor in the pancreas that produces too much insulin.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Islet cell tumorA pancreatic islet cell tumor is a rare tumor of the pancreas that starts from a type of cell called the islet cell.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article VIPomaVIPoma is a very rare cancer that usually grows from cells in the pancreas called islet cells.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown. It is more common in people who:Are obese Have a diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables Have diabetes Have long-term exposure to certain chemicals Have long-term inflammation of the pancreas (chronic pancreatitis) Chronic pancreatitisPancreatitis is swelling of the pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis is present when this problem does not heal or recurs and does not improve, gets worse...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article SmokeThe risk for pancreatic cancer increases with age. Family history of the disease also slightly increases the chance of developing this cancer. Symptoms A tumor (cancer) in the pancreas may grow without any symptoms at first. This means the cancer is often advanced when it is first found.Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:Diarrhea Dark urine and clay-colored stools Fatigue and weakness FatigueFatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, or lack of energy.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Sudden increase in blood sugar level (diabetes) Jaundice (a yellow color in the skin, mucous membranes, or white part of the eyes) and itching of the skin JaundiceJaundice is a yellow color of the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes. The yellow coloring comes from bilirubin, a byproduct of old red blood cells. Jau...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Loss of appetite and weight loss Nausea and vomiting Pain or discomfort in the upper part of the belly or abdomen Exams and Tests The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms. During the exam, the provider may feel a lump (mass) in your abdomen.Blood tests that may be ordered include:Complete blood count (CBC) CBCA complete blood count (CBC) test measures the following:The number of red blood cells (RBC count)The number of white blood cells (WBC count)The tota...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Liver function tests Liver function testsLiver function tests are common tests that are used to see how well the liver is working. Tests include:AlbuminAlpha-1 antitrypsinAlkaline phosphata...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Serum bilirubinSerum bilirubinThe bilirubin blood test measures the level of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment found in bile, a fluid made by the liver. Bi...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Imaging tests that may be ordered include:CT scan of the abdomen CT scan of the abdomenAn abdominal CT scan is an imaging method. This test uses x-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the belly area. CT stands for computed tomog...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) ERCPERCP is short for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. It is a procedure that looks at the bile ducts. It is done through an endoscope. ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Endoscopic ultrasound EndoscopicEndoscopy is a way of looking inside the body using a flexible tube that has a small camera and light on the end of it. This instrument is called an...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article MRI of the abdomenMRI of the abdomenAn abdominal magnetic resonance imaging scan is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves. The waves create pictures of the inside ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer (and what type) is made by a pancreatic biopsy.Pancreatic biopsyA biliary tract biopsy is the removal of small amounts of cells and fluids from the duodenum, bile ducts, pancreas, or pancreatic duct. The sample i...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article If tests confirm you have pancreatic cancer, more tests will be done to see how far the cancer has spread within and outside the pancreas. This is called staging. Staging helps guide treatment and gives you an idea of what to expect. Treatment Treatment for adenocarcinoma depends on the stage of the tumor.Surgery may be done if the tumor has not spread or has spread very little. Along with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy or both may be used before or after surgery. A small number of people can be cured with this treatment approach.SurgeryPancreatic surgery is done to treat cancer of the pancreas gland.Read Article Now Book Mark Article ChemotherapyThe term chemotherapy is used to describe cancer-killing drugs. Chemotherapy may be used to:Cure the cancer Shrink the cancerPrevent the cancer from...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Radiation therapyRadiation therapy uses high-powered x-rays, particles, or radioactive seeds to kill cancer cells.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article When the tumor has not spread out of the pancreas but cannot be surgically removed, chemotherapy and radiation therapy together may be recommended.When the tumor has spread (metastasized) to other organs such as the liver, chemotherapy alone is usually used.With advanced cancer, the goal of treatment is to manage pain and other symptoms. For example, if the tube that carries bile is blocked by the pancreatic tumor, a procedure to place a tiny metal tube (stent) may be done to open the blockage. This can help relieve jaundice, and itching of the skin. Support Groups You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.Cancer support groupThe following organizations are good resources for information on cancer:American Cancer Society -- www. cancer. orgAmerican Childhood Cancer Organiz...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Outlook (Prognosis) Some people with pancreatic cancer that can be surgically removed are cured. But in most people, the tumor has spread and cannot be completely removed at the time of diagnosis.Chemotherapy and radiation are often given after surgery to increase the cure rate (this is called adjuvant therapy). For pancreatic cancer that cannot be removed completely with surgery or cancer that has spread beyond the pancreas, a cure is not possible. In this case, chemotherapy is given to improve and extend the person's life. When to Contact a Medical Professional Contact your provider for an appointment if you have:Abdominal or back pain that does not go away Persistent loss of appetite Unexplained fatigue or weight loss Other symptoms of this disorder Prevention Preventive measures include:If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Exercise regularly to stay at a healthy weight.Open ReferencesReferencesDe Jesus-Acosta A, Narang A, Mauro L, Herman J, Jaffee EM, Laheru DA. Carcinoma of the pancreas. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 78.Modi B, Shires GT. Pancreatic cancer, cystic pancreatic neoplasms, and other nonendocrine pancreatic tumors. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 60.National Cancer Institute website. Pancreatic cancer treatment (PDQ) - health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/pancreatic/hp/pancreatic-treatment-pdq. Updated March 17, 202. Accessed May 18, 2022.National Comprehensive Cancer Network website. NCCN clinical practice guidelines in oncology: pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Version 2.2021. www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/pancreatic.pdf. Updated February 24, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.AllVideoImagesTogDigestive system - illustration The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.Digestive systemillustrationEndocrine glands - illustration Endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream to be transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood. The thyroid gets instructions from the pituitary to secrete hormones which determine the rate of metabolism in the body (the more hormone in the bloodstream, the faster the chemical activity; the less hormone, the slower the activity).Endocrine glandsillustrationPancreatic cancer, CT scan - illustration A CT scan of the upper abdomen showing a tumor (pancreas carcinoma) in the head of the pancreas, seen here in the middle of the picture.Pancreatic cancer, CT scanillustrationPancreas - illustration The pancreas is an elongated, tapered gland that is located behind the stomach and secretes digestive enzymes and the hormones insulin and glucagon.PancreasillustrationBiliary obstruction - series - Normal anatomyPresentation Digestive system - illustration The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.Digestive systemillustrationEndocrine glands - illustration Endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream to be transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood. The thyroid gets instructions from the pituitary to secrete hormones which determine the rate of metabolism in the body (the more hormone in the bloodstream, the faster the chemical activity; the less hormone, the slower the activity).Endocrine glandsillustrationPancreatic cancer, CT scan - illustration A CT scan of the upper abdomen showing a tumor (pancreas carcinoma) in the head of the pancreas, seen here in the middle of the picture.Pancreatic cancer, CT scanillustrationPancreas - illustration The pancreas is an elongated, tapered gland that is located behind the stomach and secretes digestive enzymes and the hormones insulin and glucagon.Pancreasillustration Biliary obstruction - series - Normal anatomyPresentation Related Information Malignancy(Special Topic) Review Date: 7/19/2021 Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 05/18/2022. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.