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Pancreatic cancer  


The pancreas is an organ that sits behind the stomach. It's shaped like a fish with a wide head, a tapering body and a narrow, pointed tail. Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the pancreas.

Tumors are cancerous or noncancerous growths that form when too many cells grow. Pancreatic cancer is when too many cancer cells grow in the pancreas and form a cancerous tumor.




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    • Diabetes
    • Blood clots
    • Back or belly pain 
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Losing weight without trying to do so
    • Problems eating or not feeling hungry
    • Enlargement of the gallbladder or liver 
    • Jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin

    These symptoms can happen for other reasons besides cancer. If you have symptoms like those listed above, you should talk to your provider to find out the reason. 

  • There are many ways your doctor may find pancreatic cancer. Your doctor might do one or more of the following:

    • A physical exam
    • A blood test or bone marrow test
    • Ask about your family medical history as well as yours
    • An imaging test, like an X-ray or CT scan  
    • A biopsy (taking a sample of tissue from your body and testing it)
    • Lab tests and other screening tests, such as a blood test 
  • About 60,000 people are found to have pancreatic cancer each year in the United States. Pancreatic cancer is a little more common in men than in women.

    • Smoking — the chances of getting pancreatic cancer are two times higher for smokers than non-smokers 
    • Being overweight or having too much body fat
    • Having diabetes
    • Long-term pancreatitis or inflammation (swelling) of the pancreas
    • Being older — most people with pancreatic cancer are age 45 or older and about two-thirds are at least age 65 or older
    • Black Americans are slightly more likely to get pancreatic cancer than whites
    • Pancreatic cancer seems to run in some families

    Learn more about what raises someone's chances for getting pancreatic cancer.

  • There is no sure way to stop someone from getting pancreatic cancer. There are some things you can do to help lower your chances for getting it, such as:

    • Have a low-fat diet (eating plan)
    • Don't smoke
    • Don't drink alcohol
    • Watch your body weight and get exercise

    Learn more about ways to lessen your chances of getting pancreatic cancer.

  • How we care for pancreatic cancer depends on many factors: 

    • Type of cancer
    • Size of the cancer
    • Where the cancer is located in the body 
    • Stage of cancer 

    Your doctor will work with you to find the right care plan for you. Some examples of treatment include:

    • Surgery to remove cancer 
    • Chemotherapy (using medication to make the cancer smaller or to kill cancer cells)
    • Radiation (using X-rays to kill cancer cells) 
    • Ablation to kill tumors without removing them 
    • Cryosurgery (using cold temperatures to freeze or kill cancer cells)
    • Targeted therapy (using drugs to stop cancer cells from growing and spreading)
    • Hormone therapy (using hormones which are natural chemicals in the body that help it work or medications that block hormones to kill cancer cells)
    • Immunotherapy (using the body’s immune system that naturally fights illness)