Pancreatic cancer occurs when a tumor forms within the pancreas, a fish-shaped organ surrounded by the liver and the organs of the digestive system. The pancreas is responsible for producing enzymes that break down food.
Most cancers of the pancreas are called adenocarcinomas, which are tumors that form in the gland cells of the pancreas.
Causes and Symptoms
Things such as smoking, diabetes, obesity or a family history of pancreatic cancer can increase your chances of developing the disease. If you have inflammation of the pancreas because of a disorder such as pancreatitis, that also can enhance your risk. Researchers are also examining whether heavy alcohol use or a diet that is high in fat might increase your risk for pancreatic cancer.
When pancreatic cancer presents symptoms, one of the main warning signs is pain in the upper part of your belly or the middle of the back. Jaundice, in which the skin and eyes have a tinge of yellow, also sometimes occurs. You may experience dark urine or stools that are pale or float in the toilet. Nausea and vomiting are additional warning signs of pancreatic cancer.
Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer
Treatment for pancreatic cancer is most effective if the cancer is caught at an early stage and the tumor can be completely removed via surgery. However, even if the cancer has grown or spread, treatments can still help the patient live a longer and better-quality life. Common treatments for pancreatic cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and chemotherapy.
SOURCES: American Cancer Society; U.S. National Cancer Institute
Endometrial and breast tumors were less likely among obese women who had the procedure
Health coverage surged in states that expanded Medicaid, research finds
Low-cost blood screening could be key weapon against No. 3 cancer killer in U.S.
But the gene flaw is rare, affecting less than 1 percent of typical cancers, researchers say
Study suggests it works as well as a full week of treatments
Scientists aim for earlier detection, when tumors are treatable
Where fat is carried is as strong a predictor as BMI, research suggests
Academic medical centers that perform more tumor surgeries had better patient outcomes, study found
Patients who had lesions reaching the belly removed lived about 18 months longer, study says
Still, more progress is needed and racial disparities remain, U.S. report finds
Type 2 diabetes onset or worsening may be early sign of deadly, hard-to-detect cancer, study suggests
Chinese-based study, analysis of previous research point to everyday use decreasing the odds
International committee finds thinner folks less likely to develop variety of malignancies
3 in 4 get aggressive therapies with painful side effects in last months of their lives, study finds
Neither extra chemotherapy drug nor add-on radiation aided longevity in French trial
Study finds even small increases in pollution raised overall odds of dying from disease by 22 percent
But research can't prove cause-and-effect and more investigation is needed, experts say
Could bad oral hygiene up risk for pancreatic cancer? New research investigates.
Study suggests, but doesn't prove, that odds increase for some types of tumors, but drop for others
People with excess weight may have more of a potentially tumor-promoting substance, scientists say
Thousands projected to die from hard-to-treat disease
Agency says medication can be used in combination with others for advanced cases
Study found procedure improved survival for people with stage 3 disease
But expert says whether it will improve outcomes not proven yet
But more research is needed before test is used for monitoring or screening, researchers say
Eighty percent of lung cancer deaths linked to smoking, researchers say
Shortage of vitamin D may be to blame
Survival not significantly different from patients who didn't take metformin, study finds
Multiple gene mutations identified that could be targets for treatment
Small trial suggests the scans might help, but experts aren't so sure
Small, but steady declines in deaths seen over past decade
Study shows biggest improvements in people diagnosed between ages 50 and 64
Early trial consistently shrunk tumors in mice, but some experts question the potential use for humans
FDA hopes targeted drug research will lead to 'big break'
Researchers identify a gene that may trigger early spread
Cancer patients who had fine needle aspiration lived longer
Threat was highest first three months after diagnosis, researchers say
Breast cancer particularly troubling, researchers report
Finding is yet another reason to maintain a healthy weight, experts say
Finding might lead one day to test for a disease that's hard to detect before advanced stages
Study found link to breast, colon, liver and other tumors
But, finding isn't conclusive, and people shouldn't take the drug just to cut cancer risk, experts say
Mining, construction fields hotbeds for products like snuff, survey finds
But findings still preliminary, need confirmation
Other research cites advances in treatment of this deadly disease
Prediction highlights need for more research on this difficult-to-diagnose, treat disease, U.S. experts say
But it's not always clear which disease comes first, researchers say
But FDA assessment calls for further look at injectable type-2 treatments
Danish researchers say findings are preliminary, test produces a lot of false positive results