Awareness Color: Purple
Awareness Month/Day(s): November
Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies horizontally behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars.
Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis, even when diagnosed early. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it's a leading cause of cancer death. Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and surgical removal isn't possible.
Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in your pancreas develop mutations in their DNA. These mutations cause cells to grow uncontrollably and to continue living after normal cells would die. These accumulating cells can form a tumor.
Most pancreatic cancer begins in the cells that line the ducts of the pancreas. This type of cancer is called pancreatic adenocarcinoma or pancreatic exocrine cancer.
Rarely, cancer can form in the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas. This type of cancer is called islet cell cancer or pancreatic endocrine cancer.
Pancreatic cancer: Also called exocrine cancer is a malignant tumor of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer has been called a 'silent' disease because early pancreatic cancer usually does not cause symptoms. If the tumor blocks the common bile duct, and bile cannot pass into the digestive system, the skin and whites of they eyes become yellow or jaundice. Estimated new cases and deaths from pancreatic cancer in the United States in 2014: • New cases: 46,420 • Deaths: 39,590.