Pancreatic Cancer

(Cancer of the Pancreas)


Pancreatic cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the pancreas. The pancreas is a long, flattened pear-shaped organ in the abdomen. It makes digestive enzymes and hormones, including insulin.
The Pancreas
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant growths. These growths can invade nearby tissues. Cancer that has invaded nearby tissues can then spread to other parts of the body.It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but it is probably a combination of genetics and environment.

Risk Factors

Pancreatic cancer is more common in men, and in people aged 40 years and older. Other factors that may increase your chance of pancreatic cancer include:
  • Smoking and using smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pancreatitis, hereditary pancreatitis, or family nonpolyposis colon cancer syndrome
  • Family or personal history of certain types of colon polyps or colon cancer
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer, especially in Ashkenazi Jews with BRCA2 gene, which is associated with breast cancer
  • High-fat diet
  • Obesity, which may also reduce your chance of survival from pancreatic cancer


Pancreatic cancer does not cause symptoms in its early stages. The cancer may grow for some time before it causes symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they may be very vague. In many cases, the cancer has spread outside the pancreas by the time it is discovered.Symptoms will vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. Pancreatic cancer may cause:
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain—in the upper abdomen, sometimes spreading to the back (a result of the cancer growing and spreading)
  • Jaundice—yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, dark urine, tan stool, or stool that floats to the top of the bowl
  • Weakness, lightheadedness, chills, muscle spasms, diarrhea—especially if the cancer involves the islet cells that make insulin and other hormones

leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals

Water Before Meals May Promote Weight Loss
August 2015

A randomized trial found that drinking water before main meals led to higher weight loss than those who were asked to imagine a full stomach before main meals. Water preloading is believed to help create a feeling of fullness or satiety during the meal, which may help curb overeating.

dot separator
previous editions

Fecal Transplants Induce Ulcerative Colitis Remission
July 2015

Exercise Associated with Healthy Baby Weight
June 2015

Mindful Meditation May Reduce Symptoms and Complications of Insomnia
May 2015

dashed separator


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »