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Information About Pancreatic Cancer

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is now the fourth leading cause of cancer death, according to the American Cancer Society. It is estimated that there will be 30,700 new pancreatic cancer cases in 2003, with the majority occurring in people 60 years of age or older.

There are several types of pancreatic cancers, including the following:

Some benign (noncancerous) tumors in the pancreas include the following:

What is a risk factor?

A risk factor is anything that may increase a person's chance of developing a disease. It may be an activity, such as smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. Different diseases, including cancers, have different risk factors.

Although these factors can increase a person's risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with one or more risk factors never develop the disease, while others develop disease and have no known risk factors.

But, knowing your risk factors to any disease can help to guide you into the appropriate actions, including changing behaviors and being clinically monitored for the disease.

What causes pancreatic cancer?

While there are no known causes of pancreatic cancer, there are known risk factors. Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include the following:

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

The following are the most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of pancreatic cancer may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Picture of a patient in a scanner

How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for pancreatic cancer may include the following:

Treatment for pancreatic cancer:

Specific treatment for pancreatic cancer will be determined by your physician based on:

Depending upon the type and stage, pancreatic cancer may be treated with the following:

Long-term prognosis for individuals with pancreatic cancer depends on the size and type of the tumor, lymph node involvement, and degree of metastases (spreading) at the time of diagnosis.

Stanford Medicine Resources:

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