Your pancreas Pancreas Your digestive system breaks food down into separate nutrients that fuel your body. It includes your digestive tract plus organs that lie outside the digestive tract but help with digestion... read more is an organ in the upper part of your belly that makes digestive juices. Your pancreas also releases insulin and other hormones that help control your blood sugar.
Locating the Pancreas
What is pancreatic cancer?
Cancer Overview of Cancer Cancer is the out-of-control growth of cells in your body. Cells are the tiny building blocks of your body. Cells specialize in what they do. For example, your intestines have muscle cells to... read more is the out-of-control growth of cells in your body. Cells are the tiny building blocks of your body. Cells specialize in what they do. Different organs are made of different kinds of cells. Almost any kind of cell can become cancerous.
Pancreatic cancer is cancer Overview of Cancer Cancer is the out-of-control growth of cells in your body. Cells are the tiny building blocks of your body. Cells specialize in what they do. For example, your intestines have muscle cells to... read more that starts in your pancreas.
Symptoms include belly pain, weight loss, and throwing up
Pancreatic cancer has often spread before it's diagnosed
Surgery may cure pancreatic cancer before it spreads
Once pancreatic cancer has spread, it's rarely cured
What causes pancreatic cancer?
You have a higher chance of getting pancreatic cancer if you:
Have family members with pancreatic cancer
What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it has spread. Then, your symptoms may include:
Severe upper belly pain, which you might also feel in the middle of your back—it may feel better when you lean forward or curl up
Jaundice Jaundice in Adults Jaundice is a yellow color to your skin and the whites of your eyes. Jaundice is caused by a buildup of a substance called bilirubin Bilirubin is a yellow substance your body makes when it breaks... read more (yellow-colored skin and a yellow color to the white parts of your eyes)
Bloating or diarrhea
Many people with pancreatic cancer also get diabetes Diabetes Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. You get diabetes if your body's normal way of controlling blood sugar isn't working right. There are 2 types of... read more because their pancreas can't produce enough insulin.
How can doctors tell if I have pancreatic cancer?
Doctors look for pancreatic cancer using:
MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography—a special kind of MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] that looks at your liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas, or pancreatic duct)
Biopsy (which involves taking out part of the tissue to look at under a microscope)
How do doctors treat pancreatic cancer?
If doctors don’t think the cancer has spread, they may do:
Surgery Surgery for Cancer Cancer surgery is when doctors operate to remove cancerous tumors. Usually, doctors operate only when: The cancer hasn't spread (metastasized) anywhere Your body is strong enough to go through... read more to remove your pancreas and sometimes part of your small intestine
If the cancer has spread, surgery doesn't help. If it has spread only to nearby tissues, doctors may give you chemotherapy and radiation therapy. If the cancer has spread widely, doctors treat your symptoms to try to make you more comfortable. Treatment for symptoms includes:
Pain medicines or shots
Enzymes to replace digestive juices
Insulin if you get diabetes