The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer (also called cancer of the pancreas) is represented by the growth of a malignant tumour within the small pancreas organ. Each year about 31,000 individuals in the United States are diagnosed with this condition, with more than 60,000 in Europe.

The most common form of this disease is known as adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.

A less common, and typically far less virulent form of pancreatic cancer, is called islet-cell tumor (and is sometimes also known by the term neuroendocrine tumor).


Early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is difficult because the symptoms are so non-specific and varied. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, significant weight loss, jaundice, digestive problems, and depression.


Patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer typically have a poor prognosis because they tend to present later in the progression of the disease as cancer of the pancreas usually causes no symptoms early on and patients thus do not seek early medical intervention. Median survival times from diagnosis of 3-4 months are not unknown.

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Last updated: 08-16-2005 14:22:27