(Cancer of the Pancreas)
What is the pancreas?
The pancreas is a spongy, tube-shaped organ about 6 inches
It is located in the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach.
The head of
the pancreas is on the right side of the abdomen. It is
connected to the
duodenum, the upper end of the small intestine. The narrow end
pancreas, called the tail, extends to the left side of the body.
The pancreas makes pancreatic juices and hormones, including
insulin. Pancreatic juices, also called enzymes, help digest
food in the
small intestine. Insulin controls the amount of sugar in the
enzymes and hormones are needed to keep the body working right.
As pancreatic juices are made, they flow into the main
duct. This duct joins the common bile duct, which connects the
the liver and the gallbladder. The common bile duct, which
carries bile (a
fluid that helps digest fat), connects to the small intestine
What is cancer?
Cancer is a group of diseases. More than 100 different types of
cancer are known, and several types of cancer can develop in
They all have one thing in common: abnormal cells grow and
Healthy cells that make up the body's tissues grow, divide, and
replace themselves in an orderly way. This process keeps the
body in good
repair. Sometimes, however, some cells lose the ability to
growth. They grow too rapidly and without any order. Too much
made, and tumors are formed. Tumors can be benign or malignant.
Benign tumors are not cancer. They do not spread to other parts
of the body and are seldom a threat to life. Often, benign
tumors can be
removed by surgery, and they are not likely to return.
Malignant tumors are cancer. They can invade and destroy nearby
healthy tissues and organs. Cancer cells also can break away
tumor and spread to other parts of the body. The spread of
Cancer that starts in the pancreas is called pancreatic cancer.
When pancreatic cancer spreads, it usually travels through the
system. The lymphatic system includes a network of thin tubes
like blood vessels, into tissues all over the body. Cancer
carried through these vessels by lymph, a colorless, watery
carries cells that fight infection. Along the network of
are groups of small, bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes.
remove lymph nodes near the pancreas to learn whether they
Cancer cells can also be carried through the bloodstream to the
liver, lungs, bone, or other organs. Pancreatic cancer that
other organs is called metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Pancreas (Pancreatic Cancer)
Cancer that starts in the pancreas is called pancreatic cancer. This picture of the pancreas shows its location in the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach.