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Pancreatic cancer


Adenocarcinoma of the ductal type, which originates from exocrine gland tissue, is the most common type of pancreatic cancer and constitutes > 90% of all tumors. Adenocarcinomas in the body and tail are less common than in the head and constitute 25-30% of the total amount.

Endocrine tumors can occur in all parts of the pancreas, but are most common in the body and tail and consitutes 1-2% of all pancreatic tumors. They are separated into functioning and non-functioning tumors, depending on whether the patient has symptoms of hormonal hyperfunction or not.

The pancreas is divided into head of the pancreas, which is closest to the duodenum, the body and tail, as well as a network of ducts.

The pancreas consists of two types of gland tissue:

  • exocrine, which excretes digestive enzymes to the bowel 
  • endocrine, which excretes hormones to the blood system    


Compared to other cancers, pancreatic cancer is relatively rare and represents 3.1% of all new cancer cases in the United States. Pancreatic cancer is slightly more common in men than women and is more common with increasing age. The average age at diagnosis is 70 years.

In 2017, it is estimated to be 53,670 new cases of pancreas cancer in the United States (2).


Age-specific incidence of pancreatic cancer, 2010–2014.

Source: National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, USA



Incidence of cancer of pancreatic cancer, 1975–2014.

Source:National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, USA


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