Pancreatic Cancer: What are the Signs and Symptoms?

0

Pancreatic tumors are sometimes discovered during imaging studies — such as an MRI or CT scan — performed to investigate the onset of new symptoms or during evaluation for another condition. They may also be identified during screening for families with a known history of pancreatic cancer.

The pancreas produces fluids that help digest (break down) food, and hormones, such as insulin, to help control blood sugar levels.

The digestive fluids are produced by exocrine pancreas cells, and the hormones are produced by endocrine pancreas cells. About 95 percent of pancreatic cancers begin with the exocrine cells, and are called pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma or other types of carcinomas.

Another type of pancreatic tumor is called a pancreatic endocrine tumor, and these tumors originate from the endocrine cells. Making the distinction between these two kinds of pancreatic cancer is important, as patients with these two tumor types are treated differently.

Pancreatic cancer is a very complex condition to treat, since symptoms are often not apparent until the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Pancreatic cysts
  • Smoking
  • Long-standing diabetes
  • Chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas, especially in people who smoke)
  • Age (55+ years)
  • Obesity
  • Race (African-Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than white, Hispanic, or Asian-Americans)
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Genetic factors; one or more inherited genetic mutations, including as part of the following familial cancer syndromes: Hereditary pancreatitis, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 syndrome, hereditary breast-ovarian cancer (HBOC), hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC; Lynch syndrome), von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, ataxia-telangiectasia, and the familial atypical multiple mole melanoma syndrome (FAMMM).

Learn more about treatment for pancreatic cancer at Dana-Farber.

Comments Sort By Newest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blue Captcha Image
Refresh

*

Make An Appointment

For adults: 877-960-1562

Quick access: Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

For children: 888-733-4662

All content in these blogs is provided by independent writers and does not represent the opinions or advice of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or its partners.

Latest Tweets

Dana-Farber @danafarber
What is the Relationship Between Tea and #Cancer Prevention? https://t.co/mnYP2qfjtW https://t.co/N5LVaBSRZ2
Dana-Farber @danafarber
Missed Dana-Farber at #ASH17? Subscribe to our bi-annual e-newsletter, Advances in Hematologic Malignancies, to lea… https://t.co/kknkzq1qmL
Dana-Farber @danafarber
Congratulations to Dr. Edward Benz, president and chief executive officer emeritus of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute,… https://t.co/YH71ia6nn2

Republish our posts on your blog

Interested in sharing one of our stories on your blog? Feel free to republish this content! We just ask that you credit Dana-Farber, link to the original article, and refrain from making edits that change the original context. Questions? Email the editors at insight_blog@dfci.harvard.edu.