What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer

is the eighth most diagnosed cancer in Australia. In 2020, it was estimated that 3,933 people would receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. This would account for 2.7% of all cancer diagnoses in the country.

Pancreatic cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in the pancreas and form a tumour. Although pancreatic cancer can happen anywhere in the pancreas, approximately 70% of cases occur in the head of the pancreas.

The two main types of tumours that develop in the pancreas are exocrine and endocrine tumours:

Exocrine pancreatic cancer – Exocrine tumours are the most common, accounting for 95% of pancreatic cancer cases. About 85% of these are pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC) which start in the lining of the pancreas ducts.

Endocrine pancreatic cancer – Endocrine tumours are also known as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) or islet cell tumours. They start in the hormone producing cells of the pancreas and account for approximately 5% of pancreatic tumours.

A life-changing diagnosis

Finding out that you or a loved one has pancreatic cancer is a life-changing experience. You’re most likely feeling scared and confused. Not to mention the questions you have for which you don’t have any answers.

The Jreissati Family Pancreatic Centre at Epworth created the Pancreatic Cancer Patient Guide to provide you with a general overview of pancreatic cancer.

Some of the topics include:

  • risk factors
  • symptoms to look out for
  • diagnosis
  • treatment options
  • diet and nutrition.

The Pancreatic Cancer Patient Guide is a tool to help you understand this diagnosis and how it may impact you and your family. We’ve kept the content as simple as possible as we know medical speak can be hard to understand.

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