Pancreatic cancer; Cancer – pancreas
Definition of Pancreatic carcinoma
Pancreatic carcinoma is cancer of the pancreas.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The pancreas is a large organ that is found behind the stomach. It makes and releases enzymes that help the body absorb foods, especially fats. Hormones called insulin and glucagon are also made in the pancreas. These hormones help your body control blood sugar levels.
A tumor or cancer in the pancreas may often grow without any symptoms at first. This may mean pancreatic cancer is more advanced when it is first found.
Because pancreatic cancer is often advanced when it is first found, very few pancreatic tumors can be removed by surgery. The standard procedure is called a pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple procedure).
Some patients with pancreatic cancer that can be surgically removed are cured. However, in more than 80% of patients the tumor has already spread and cannot be completely removed at the time of diagnosis.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Uniersity of Washington School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/9/2009