Pancreatic Cancer

By: CPMC Genetic Counseling Staff
Reviewed by: Umur M. Atabek, MD, Cooper University Hospital 

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer occurs in the tissues of the pancreas, a pear shaped organ located behind the lower part of the stomach. The pancreas plays a key role in digestion by secreting hormones, like insulin, which help metabolize sugars, and also enzymes that assist with digesting food. The most common type of pancreatic cancer, called exocrine pancreatic cancer or pancreatic adenocarcinoma, begins in the cells that line the ducts of the pancreas. Cancer can also form in the various hormone producing cells of the pancreas. This type of pancreatic cancer is rare and is called islet cell cancer or endocrine pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis because it typically spreads very rapidly and is not often detected at early stages.

How Common is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most common cancer in the United States. It is estimated that, in 2013, 45,220 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 38,460 will die from pancreatic cancer in the United States. About 1.5% of men and women will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during their lifetime1. Pancreatic cancer occurs most frequently in older individuals and is slightly more common among men than women.

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Learn more about Pancreatic Cancer, from symptoms to understanding your risk, through the links below.

Page References

Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Learn more about Pancreatic Cancer
Learn More› ]

Risk Factors

Both genetic and non-genetic factors play a role in Pancreatic Cancer [ Learn More › ]


Reduce Your Risk

Risk-reducing behaviors for Pancreatic Cancer [ Learn More › ]

The CPMC Study

Learn how the CPMC Study identifies your risk for Pancreatic Cancer [ Learn More › ]


Educational Sessions

An educational video series on Pancreatic Cancer [ Learn More › ]