Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer has been called a "silent" disease because early pancreatic cancer usually does not cause early symptoms. Typically, pancreatic cancer has metastasized (spread to adjacent organs, such as the liver) by the time most people receive a dignosis of pancreatic cancer. Symptoms and signs usually appear later in the course of the disease and include jaundice, back pain, nausea, weight loss, itching, and loss of appetite. Treatment depends upon the type of pancreatic cancer but may include surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. Read more: Pancreatic Cancer Article
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Picture of Pancreatic Cancer
An abdominal CT scan shows a small, vaguely seen 2-cm pancreatic adenocarcinoma (mass) causing obstruction of both the common...
Picture of Pancreatic Cancer Tumor
This is a gross section of a malignant tumor of the pancreas resected from the pancreatic body and tail. See a picture of...
Picture of Pancreas
Front View of the Pancreas. The pancreas is about 6 inches long and sits across the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach. See...
Picture of Pancreas
A fish-shaped spongy grayish-pink organ about 6 inches (15 cm) long that stretches across the back of the abdomen, behind the...
Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Learn about pancreatic cancer signs, symptoms, causes, statistics, treatment and side effects (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery,...
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Related Disease Conditions
Second Source article from Government
Second Source article from Government
Lower Back Pain
There are many causes of back pain. Pain in the low back can relate to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area.
Cancer Risk Factors
Though it's difficult to say why some people develop cancer while others don't, research shows that certain risk factors increase a person's odds of developing cancer. These risk factors include growing older, family history of cancer, diet, alcohol and tobacco use, and exposure to sunlight, ionizing radiation, certain chemicals, and some viruses and bacteria.
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
H. pylori (Helicobacter Pylori) Infection
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that causes chronic inflammation (gastritis) of the inner lining of the stomach, and also is the most common cause of ulcers worldwide. About 50% of people in the world carries or is infected with H. pylori. Common symptoms of H. pylori infection are occasional abdominal discomfort, bloating, belching or burping, and nausea and vomiting. H. pylori infection is difficult to eradicate, and treatment is with two or more antibiotics.
Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis is a rare disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. There are two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic. Symptoms of pancreatitis include abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, and a rapid pulse. Treatment of pancreatitis often requires hospitalization.
Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20% over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.
Jaundice (Hyperbilirubinemia) in Adults
Jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia) in adults may be caused by a variety of medical diseases or conditions. Some cases of jaundice can be managed at home with a doctor's supervision, while other causes of jaundice may be life-threatening. Symptoms of jaundice are yellow skin, yellowing of the whites of the eyes, pale colored stools, dark urine, itchy skin, vomiting, nausea, and rectal bleeding. Treatment of jaundice is focused on the disease or condition that is causing jaundice.
Abdominal Pain (Causes, Remedies, Treatment)
Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
Anemia is the condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is, therefore, decreased. There are several types of anemia such as iron deficiency anemia (the most common type), sickle cell anemia, vitamin B12 anemia, pernicious anemia, and aplastic anemia. Symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, malaise, hair loss, palpitations, menstruation, and medications. Treatment for anemia includes treating the underlying cause for the condition. Iron supplements, vitamin B12 injections, and certain medications may also be necessary.
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or "passive smoke" also harm family members, coworkers, and others around smokers. There are a number of techniques available to assist people who want to quit smoking.
Cancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
Hepatitis B (HBV, Hep B)
The hepatitis B virus (HBV, hep B) is a unique, coated DNA virus belonging to the Hepadnaviridae family of viruses. The course of the virus is determined primarily by the age at which the infection is acquired and the interaction between the virus and the body's immune system. Successful treatment is associated with a reduction in liver injury and fibrosis (scarring), a decreased likelihood of developing cirrhosis and its complications, including liver cancer, and a prolonged survival.
Certain behavioral, lifestyle, and environmental factors contribute to cancer. Cancer prevention involves modifying these factors to decrease cancer risk. Tobacco use, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, and obesity increase the risk of certain cancers. Vaccines, genetic testing, and cancer screening also play a role in cancer prevention.
Nausea and Vomiting (Causes, Natural Remedies, Diet, Medication)
Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions. There are numerous cases of nausea and vomiting. Some causes may not require medical treatment, for example, motion sickness, and other causes may require medical treatment by a doctor, for example, heart attack, lung infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Some causes of nausea and vomiting may be life threatening, for example, heart attack, abdominal obstruction, and cancers. Treatment of nausea and vomiting depends upon the cause.
Carcinoid Syndrome (Carcinoid Tumor)
A carcinoid tumor is a tumor that develops from enterochromaffin cells. The important characteristic of carcinoid tumors that sets them apart from other gastrointestinal tract tumors, is their potential to cause the carcinoid syndrome. Local symptoms may include: Abdominal pain Intestinal bleeding Flushing Gastrointestinal bleeding Diarrhea However, often symptoms of the carcinoid syndrome can be more devastating than the local symptoms. There are many options for the treatment of carcinoid tumors and carcinoid syndrome.
Symptoms of 12 Serious Diseases and Health Problems
Learn how to recognize early warning signs and symptoms of serious diseases and health problems, for example, chronic cough, headache, chest pain, nausea, stool color or consistency changes, heartburn, skin moles, anxiety, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, delusions, lightheadedness, night sweats, eye problems, confusion, depression, severe pelvic or abdominal pain, unusual vaginal discharge, and nipple changes. The symptoms and signs of serious health problems can be caused by strokes, heart attacks, cancers, reproductive problems in females (for example, cancers, fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and sexually transmitted diseases or STDs), breast problems (for example, breast cancer and non-cancer related diseases), lung diseases (for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, lung cancer, emphysema, and asthma), stomach or digestive diseases (for example, cancers, gallbladder, liver, and pancreatic diseases, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease), bladder problems (for example, urinary incontinence, and kidney infections), skin cancer, muscle and joint problems, emotional problems or mental illness (for example, postpartum depression, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mania, and schizophrenia), and headache disorders (for example, migraines, or "the worst headache of your life), and eating disorders and weight problems (for example, anorexia or bulimia).
Pancreatic cysts are collections of fluid within the pancreas. Some are benign, malignant, or pseudocysts. There are two major types of pancreatic cysts, 1) pseudocysts (inflammatory) and 2) true cysts (non-inflammatory). Symptoms of pancreatic cysts include abdominal pain, jaundice, fever, chills, and sepsis. Treatment depends on the type of cyst, and patient health.
High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)
Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar is a serious health problem for diabetics. There are two types of hyperglycemia, 1) fasting, and 2)postprandial or after meal hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia can also lead to ketoacidosis or hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS). There are a variety of causes of hyperglycemia in people with diabetes. Symptoms of high blood sugar may include increased thirst, headaches, blurred vision, and frequent urination.Treatment can be achieved through lifestyle changes or medications changes. Carefully monitoring blood glucose levels is key to prevention.
Stool Color, Changes in Color, Texture, and Form
Stool color changes can very from green, red, maroon, yellow, white, or black. Causes of changes of stool color can range from foods a person eats, medication, diseases or conditions, pregnancy, cancer, or tumors. Stool can also have texture changes such as greasy or floating stools. Stool that has a uncharacteristically foul odor may be caused by infections such as giardiasis or medical conditions.
Muscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that come on suddenly and are usually quite painful. Dehydration, doing strenuous exercise in a hot environment, prolonged muscle use, and certain diseases of the nervous system may cause muscle spasms. Symptoms and signs of a muscle spasm include an acute onset of pain and a possible bulge seen or felt beneath the skin where the muscle is located. Gently stretching the muscle usually resolves a muscle spasm.
Ascites, the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity is most commonly caused by cirrhosis of the liver. Some of the other causes of ascites include portal hypertension, congestive heart failure, blood clots, and pancreatitis. The most common symptoms include increased abdominal girth and size, abdominal bloating, and abdominal pain. Treatment depends on the cause of ascites.
Chewing Tobacco (Smokeless Tobacco, Snuff)
People absorb more nicotine into their systems by chewing tobacco (snuff or smokeless tobacco) than by smoking a cigarette. Chewing tobacco or snuff can cause cancers, poor oral health (gum disease and tooth decay), infertility, pregnancy complications, and nicotine addiction. Nicotine addiction can be overcome with available prescription drugs and other treatment programs.
Tumor grade is a system used to classify cancer cells in how likely the tumor is to grow and how abnormal they look under a microscope. Tumor grade is not the same as tumor stage. A biopsy is taken to determine if the tumor is benign (non cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Fatigue can be described in various ways. Sometimes fatigue is described as feeling a lack of energy and motivation (both mental and physical). The causes of fatigue are generally related to a variety of conditions or diseases, for example, anemia, mono, medications, sleep problems, cancer, anxiety, heart disease, and drug abuse.Treatment of fatigue is generally directed toward the condition or disease that is causing the fatigue.
Bilirubin is a waste product of the normal breakdown of red blood cells in the liver. Normal bilirubin levels vary from lab to lab, and range from around 0.2 to 1.2 mg/dL. High levels of bilirubin can be diagnosed with a bilirubin blood test. Causes of elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood can be caused by infections, viral hepatitis, anemia, genetic diseases, and liver problems. Symptoms of elevated bilirubin levels depend on the cause; however, jaundice is a common sign. Treatment for elevated bilirubin levels depend on the cause.
Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (Islet Cell Tumors)
There are many types of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs): gastrinoma, insulinoma, glucagonoma, VIPomas, and somatostatinomas. Symptoms and signs vary with the type of pancreatic NET. Standard treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, chemoembolization, targeted therapy, and supportive care.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or EPI is a condition in which a person's pancreas can't produce or secrete certain enzymes into the gastrointestinal tract, which results in the inability to digest and absorb some minerals, vitamins, and fats from food. Symptoms of EPI include diarrhea, bloating, excessive gas, bone pain, and foul smelling bowel movements. Treatment for EPI is PERT therapy.
Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone (SIADH)
Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH) is common in older individuals and happens when too much antidiuretic hormone releases and causes water retention and a low sodium level. There are several causes of SIADH. Symptoms include seizures, irritability, elevated systolic blood pressure, and hyponatremia, among others. Treatment involves restricting fluids, treating the underlying cause, and taking medications to decrease the antidiuretic hormone's effect on the kidneys.
Local ResourcesFind a local Oncologist in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Screening Tests for Cancer
- CT Scan (Computerized Tomography)
- ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography)
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan)
- Questions To Ask Before Surgery
- Liver Biopsy
- Endoscopic Ultrasound
- Radiation Therapy
- CA 125 Ovarian Tumor Marker Blood Test
- Advance Medical Directives
- Abdominal Pain
- Lower Back Pain
- Weight Loss
- Doctor: Getting the Most from Your Doctor's Appointment
- How to Choose a Doctor
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Stool Color & Texture Changes (Black, Red, Maroon, Green, Yellow, Gray, Tarry, Sticky)
- Dark Urine
- Pancreatic Cancer
Medications & Supplements
- fentanyl patch (Duragesic)
- erlotinib (Tarceva)
- amino acids-injection, Aminosyn, Freamine, Travasol
- Digestive Enzymes Oral
- granisetron transdermal system (patch), Sancuso
- Dilaudid vs. Fentanyl (Pain Strength Comparison and Side Effects)
- Digestive enzymes vs. omeprazole (Prilosec)
- Cyramza (ramucirumab)
Prevention & Wellness
- Blood Test Might Spot Pancreatic Cancer Early
- Belly Fat Can Lead to a Sudden Attack of Pancreatitis: Study
- FDA Approves Drug for Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
- Young Cancer Patients Fare Better on Private Insurance
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg Released From Hospital After Health Scare
- 'I Wish I Had Known Sooner': Alex Trebek Issues PSA on Pancreatic Cancer
- Obesity May Be Upping Rates of Pancreatic Cancer Worldwide
- Alex Trebek Says Chemo Is Making Hosting 'Jeopardy!' a Lot Tougher
- Fungal Invasion May Drive Some Pancreatic Cancers
- Drug Trio Improves Odds Against Advanced Pancreatic Cancer
- Alex Trebek Heading Back to Chemo After Cancer Numbers Go 'Sky High'
- Alex Trebek Back Hosting 'Jeopardy!' After Completing Chemotherapy
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Treated for Pancreatic Cancer
- Despite Cancer Screening, 'Oldest Old' Have Low Survival Odds: Study
- Routine Screening for Pancreatic Cancer Not Warranted, Expert Panel Says
- New Test Can Pinpoint Which Pancreatic Cysts Might Turn Cancerous
- A New Way to Fight a Previously 'Inoperable' Pancreatic Cancer
- Alex Trebek Says His Pancreatic Cancer Is 'Near Remission'
- Aggressive Approach to Pancreatic Cysts May Prevent Dreaded Cancer
- Treatment Advances Making Pancreatic Cancer a Less Deadly Disease
- Pancreatic Cancer Survival Odds Linked to Weight Before Age 50
- Genomics Could Improve Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer
- 'Jeopardy' Host Alex Trebek Reveals He Has Pancreatic Cancer
- Adding Blood Test for Pancreatic Cancer May Aid Early Detection
- Chemo 'Cocktail' Embraced as Pancreatic Cancer Breakthrough
- Teenage Obesity May Raise Pancreatic Cancer Risk Years Later
- Type 2 Diabetes Tied to Raised Risk of Tumors, Cancer Deaths
- New Treatments May Extend Pancreatic Cancer Survival
- Some Blood Pressure Meds Tied to Pancreatic Cancer Risk in Women
- Lutathera Approved for Some Gastro and Pancreatic Cancers
- Low-Fat Diet May Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk for Overweight Older Women
- Blacks, Elderly Missing From U.S. Cancer Clinical Trials
- New Test May Help Spot Pancreatic Cancer Early
- Blood Test for Pancreatic Cancer Shows Early Promise
- Not All Hospitals Equal When It Comes to Pancreatic Cancer Care
- Survival Continues to Improve for Most Cancers
- Tests May Bring New Wave of Cancer Detection
- Is There a Link Between Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer?
- U.S. Cancer Deaths Decline Over Three Decades
- Daily Low-Dose Aspirin May Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk
- Women's Cancer Risk Rises With Years Spent Overweight
- Additional Treatments Offer Little Benefit for Pancreatic Cancer: Study
- Smog May Boost Risk for Several Cancers
- Study Ties Certain Mouth Germs to Pancreatic Cancer Risk
- 4 Types of Pancreatic Cancer Identified: Study
- Researchers Pursue Clue Between Obesity, Breast and Pancreatic Cancer
- Onivyde Approved for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer
- FDA Approves New Pancreatic Cancer Drug
- Electrical Bursts to Pancreatic Cancer Cells May Help Fight Tumor
- Former President Carter's Cancer: FAQ
- Urine Test Might Find Pancreatic Cancer Early, Study Suggests
- Study Refutes Notion That Diabetes Drug Actos Raises Bladder Cancer Risk
- Blood Protein May Spot Pancreatic Cancer Early
- Cloudy Climes May Up Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: Study
- Diabetes Drug May Not Guard Against Pancreatic Cancer
- Study Yields Genetic Insights Into Pancreatic Cancer
- Study Probes Use of MRI to Spot Pancreatic Cancer in High-Risk Patients
- Device Aims to Deliver Cancer-Killing Drugs Directly to Pancreas
- Researchers Learning More About Deadly Pancreatic Cancer
- Study Says Biopsies Are Safe
- The Future of Cancer Detection
- Scientists Detect Early Sign of Pancreatic Cancer
- Targeted Drugs Among Successes Against Cancer, Says New Report
- Study: Daily Low-Dose Aspirin May Help Ward Off Pancreatic Cancer
- Blood Test May Spot Pancreatic Cancer Earlier
- Pancreatic Cancer Will Be 2nd Deadliest Cancer by 2030: Study
- People Seek Out Health Info When Famous Person Dies
- Diabetes Tied to Higher Risk of Pancreatic Cancer in Study
- Study Sees No Evidence Linking Diabetes Drugs With Pancreatic Cancer
- Blood Test Might Help Spot Pancreatic Cancer Early
- Experimental Vaccines May Extend Life in Pancreatic Cancer
- Experimental Vaccines May Extend Life With Pancreatic Cancer
- U.S. Cancer Deaths Decline Again: Report
- Racial Differences Seen in Pancreatic Cancer Death Rates
- New Drug May Someday Battle Obesity and Diabetes
- Blood Test for Pancreatic Cancer Shows Promise in Early Trial
- Obese Patients With Pancreatic Cancer Have Shorter Survival, Study Finds
- Bile Protein May Help Detect Pancreatic Cancer
- Chemo After Surgery Prolongs Life in Pancreatic Cancer Patients, Study Finds
- Fatty, High-Calorie Diet Linked to Pancreatic Cancer in Mouse Study
- Blood Pressure Drug Might Boost Chemo Success, Mouse Study Suggests
- Abraxane Approved for Late-Stage Pancreatic Cancer
- Healthy Eating Might Ward Off Pancreatic Cancer: Study
- Blood Test Might Spot Pancreatic Cancer Early, Study Finds
- Which Cancer Tests Do You Really Need?
- Fried Foods May Boost Prostate Cancer Risk, Study Says
- Blood Test Might Help Guide Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
- Cancer Death Rates Drop 20% Over 2 Decades
- Gattex Approved for Short Bowel Syndrome
- Wins in War on Cancer Highlighted in New Report
- Antioxidants Might Help Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Study Suggests
- Could Sunlight Lower Your Odds for Pancreatic Cancer?
- New Therapies Show Some Promise Against Pancreatic Cancer
- Studies See Advances in Detecting, Treating Pancreatic Cancer
- Screening for Other Health Problems May Aid COPD Survival
- Short Walks May Ease Fatigue in Pancreatic Cancer Patients
- Endoscopy May Be Better Than Surgery for Severe Pancreatic Infection
- Why Cancer Symptoms May Elude M.D.
- Popular Diabetes Drug Might Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk: Study
- Blood Test Shows Promise in Spotting Pancreatic Cancers Early
- From Bad to Better: U.S. Cancer Rates Continue to Drop
- Type of Muscular Dystrophy Linked to Raised Cancer Risk
- Apple Founder Steve Jobs Dies at 56
- FAQ: Steve Jobs' Pancreatic Cancer
- New Guidelines Suggest Higher Doses of Vitamin D
- IBD May Raise Risk of Pancreatic Cancer
- Soft Drinks Could Boost Pancreatic Cancer Risk
- New Genetic Links for Pancreatic Cancer
- New Test Catches Most Pancreatic Cancers Early
- Pancreatic Cancer Detected by Blood Test
- With Pancreatic Cancer, Age Factors Into Familial Risk
- Metformin May Lower Diabetics' Odds for Pancreatic Cancer
- Fatty Diet Linked to Pancreatic Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer Biomarkers Found
- Beer Drinking May Speed Pancreatic Cancer Onset
- Patrick Swayze Has Pancreatic Cancer
- Test Brings Early Pancreatic Cancer to Light