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A B C D E F G H I J K LM N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9
(A-Z listing includes diseases, conditions, tests and procedures)

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer: What You Need to Know

  • Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the U.S.

  • Several risk factors, including those you can and cannot control, may impact your risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Smoking and excessive drinking may increase your risk.

  • Although pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose, several tests involving imaging and X-ray technology, are available.

  • Your age, overall health, medical history and cancer stage will help determine your treatment plan, which may include surgical or nonsurgical techniques.


Pancreatic cancer occurs when a cell in the pancreas is damaged, causing the malignant (cancer) cell to start to grow out of control. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. In fact, about two-thirds of patients are diagnosed at age 65 or older, according to the American Cancer Society. Slightly more men than women are affected by pancreatic cancer. Cigarette smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for pancreatic cancer. About 5 to 10 percent of all cancers are inherited.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the U.S., according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The American Cancer Society reported that pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3 percent of all cancers in the U.S.

Like most cancers, early detection of pancreatic cancer is critical. Survival rates are impacted by tumor size and whether the cancer has spread to other organs.


Patients rarely experience the signs of pancreatic cancer until the disease has spread to other parts of the body. The most common symptoms include jaundice and pain in the back and abdomen.

Learn more about pancreatic cancer symptoms.

Risk Factors

Certain factors may increase your chances of developing pancreatic cancer. Cigarette smoking, chronic pancreatitis and family history are among the top risk factors.

Learn more pancreatic cancer risk factors.


Screening tests for pancreatic cancer may be available for patients who are at high risk due to family history or the presence of associated genetic syndromes.

Learn more about pancreatic cancer screening.


Because the organ sits deep within the abdomen, tumors of the pancreas are often difficult to diagnose. High-tech tests to diagnose pancreatic cancer include three-dimensional imaging.

Learn more about pancreatic cancer diagnosis.


Types of pancreatic cancer fall within two main categories. Diagnosis rate, symptoms and prognosis vary by cancer type.

Learn more about pancreatic cancer types.


Staging is used to describe pancreatic cancer based on how far it has spread. Your physician may use one of two types of staging systems to characterize your disease.

Learn more pancreatic cancer stages.


Specific treatment for pancreatic cancer is based on several factors such as age, medical history and stage. Several innovative treatments are now available to help combat the disease.

Learn more pancreatic cancer treatment.


Average five-year survival rates are available for each stage of pancreatic cancer. While these rates tend to be much lower than other cancers, they have improved over time.

Learn more about pancreatic cancer prognosis.


Pancreatic cancer survivors may need to make several adjustments as they recover. Exploring various side effects of ongoing pancreatic cancer treatment can help you adjust to a new “normal.”

Learn more about pancreatic cancer survivorship.

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