Alternate Names : Cancer of the Pancreas
Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells within the pancreas undergo changes that make the cells grow and divide uncontrollably.
What is going on in the body?
The pancreas is a gland located in the middle part of the upper abdomen. Insulin is produced by the pancreas to help the body regulate blood glucose. The pancreas also produces substances to help the body digest food. When a cell in the pancreas becomes cancerous, it grows into a tumor that destroys the tissue around it.
A tumor in the pancreas tends to quickly invade the nearby liver. Eventually, the liver will be affected, and part of it will be destroyed. The cancer can also metastasize, or spread, through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Pancreatic cancer is usually found late in the disease when it is most likely to be fatal.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
Cigarette smoking significantly increases a person's risk for pancreatic cancer. It is not clear if other factors also increase the risk. The influence of alcohol and caffeine on the development of this cancer is uncertain and controversial.