Pancreatic Cancer starts in the cells of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland that lies behind your stomach deep in the upper part of the abdomen. The pancreas is also part of the hormonal system and makes insulin and other hormones. Hormones made in the pancreas enter the bloodstream and help your body use or store the energy (sugar and fat) from the food you eat. Most pancreatic cancers start in the ducts that carry pancreatic juices. Pancreatic Cancer that starts in the cells that make hormones (called islet cell cancer) is rare.
Most people diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer are over the age of 65. There is no single cause of Pancreatic Cancer, but some factors increase the risk of developing it:
- Occupational exposure to certain chemicals
- Having diabetes
- Having an inherited disorder, such as:
- Hereditary Pancreatitis
- Hereditary non-polyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC)
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
- Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma syndrome (FAMM, also called atypical mole syndrome)
Some people develop Pancreatic Cancer without any of these risk factors.
As of June 2017, there have been an estimated 5,500 new cases of Pancreatic Cancer and an estimated 4,800 Pancreatic Cancer deaths in Canada (Canadian Cancer Statistics, 2017).
As of June 2018, 57% of cases of Pancreatic Cancer were diagnosed at stage IV (Canadian Cancer Statistics, 2018).