Pancreatic Cancer


The pancreas contains two types of glands. Exocrine glands have a role in the digestion of food with the production of “pancreatic juice’. Endocrine glands produce hormones including insulin (reduces sugar in the blood) and glucagon (increases sugar in the blood).
The pancreas is located behind the stomach:

Because there are two types of glands in the pancreas there are different types of cells and different types of cancer. it is important to know which type of pancreatic cancer you have as this will affect treatment and outlook. The most common types are exocrine tumors.

Who is at risk?

Cigarette smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop pancreatic cancer. Caffeine consumption has already been linked to pancreatic cancer. However, diet may also be implicated in the onset of this type of cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

A vague pain in the upper abdomen that sometimes spreads around or through the back. Back pain, usually persistent, that worsens while eating or lying down and is relieved by sitting up or bending forward. A yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. (If this sign appears, see a physician immediately). Although these signs and symptoms are probably unrelated to pancreatic cancer, if they last longer than two weeks a physician should be seen.


By eating a well-balanced varied diet low in fat and high in fibre and by not smoking, you are decreasing your chances of getting pancreatic cancer.


There is no routine screening test for pancreatic cancer. If you are experiencing a combination of the signs and symptoms listed above, contact your doctor.


Most successfully treated by removal of the pancreas. Recent advances in surgical procedures and pre- and postoperative care have made this extensive surgery relatively safe.

Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are used to damage or destroy cancer cells while minimally harming the nearby normal tissue.