Pancreatic Cancer

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Definition of pancreatic cancer: A disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the tissues of the pancreas. Also called exocrine cancer.

Estimated new cases of pancreatic cancer in the United States in 2016: 53,070

Pancreatic cancer, the 12th most common cancer in the United States, is relatively rare; however, it is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the United States. African Americans have higher rates of pancreatic cancer incidence than whites or other racial/ethnic groups. Pancreatic cancer incidence rates are higher in men than in women.

Cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Additional risk factors include personal history of diabetes or chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), obesity, certain hereditary conditions, and a family history of the disease or pancreatitis. Early-stage pancreatic cancer is often asymptomatic, and there is no routine screening test for pancreatic cancer. Standard treatments for pancreatic cancer include surgery, radiation therapychemotherapy, chemoradiation, and targeted therapy.

The following stages are used for pancreatic cancer:

Stage 0 (Carcinoma In Situ)

In stage 0, abnormal cells are found in the lining of the pancreas. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.

Stage I

In stage I, cancer has formed and is found in the pancreas only. Stage I is divided into stage IA and stage IB, based on the size of the tumor.

Stage II

In stage II, cancer may have spread to nearby tissue and organs, and may have spread to lymph nodes near the pancreas. Stage II is divided into stage IIA and stage IIB, based on where the cancer has spread.

Stage III

In stage III, cancer has spread to the major blood vessels near the pancreas and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage IV

In stage IV, cancer may be of any size and has spread to distant organs, such as the liver, lung, and peritoneal cavity. It may have also spread to organs and tissues near the pancreas or to lymph nodes.

All information was taken from the NCI (National Cancer Institute)