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Pancreatic Cancer access options

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in the pancreas, a glandular organ behind the stomach, begin to grow out of control. The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen which produces both digestive enzymes and insulin. The pancreas is made up of two main types of cells: exocrine cells that make enzymes that help you digest foods (especially fats), and endocrine cells that make hormones like insulin and glucagon (which are important for controlling blood sugar levels) into the bloodstream1.

Around 338,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed every year, making up 2.4% of all cancer diagnoses2. In more than 80% of the cases, pancreatic cancer develops in the exocrine pancreas. About 75% of all exocrine pancreatic cancers occur within the head or neck of the pancreas, 15–20% in the body and 5–10% in the tail of the pancreas.

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Symptoms of the most common form of pancreatic cancer may include yellow skin, abdominal or back pain, unexplained weight loss, light-colored stools, dark urine and loss of appetite. However there are usually no symptoms in the disease's early stages, and symptoms that are specific enough to suggest pancreatic cancer do not usually develop until the disease has reached an advanced stage3. By the time of diagnosis, pancreatic cancer has often spread to other parts of the body4.

At what age are people usually diagnosed with pancreatic cancer?

Most patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are older than 45, whilst at least two thirds are at least 65 years old5.


  1. What Is Pancreatic Cancer?
    American Cancer Society, last revised May 2016.

  2. Cancer facts & figures – Worldwide data,
    World Cancer Research Fund International, 2014.

  3. Pancreatic Cancer – Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention,
    American Cancer Society, last revised May 2016. 

  4. Pancreatic Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version,
    National Cancer Institute, last updated February 2018. 

  5. Clinical Review: Pancreatic adenocarcinoma [PDF],
    BMJ, May 2012.

  1. Lynparza
    Lynparza (olaparib)
    Breast Cancer, Gynaecological Cancer
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