Your pancreas is an unassuming organ you may not give much thought to. This organ is about six inches long and is located in your abdomen, behind your stomach. As with other cancers, pancreatic cancer occurs when cells go haywire and have uncontrolled growth. While pancreatic cancer accounts for only about 3% of cancers diagnosed in the United States, the American Cancer Society predicts that around 57,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019. Additionally, about 46,000 Americans will die from it. Since prevention and early diagnosis are key to survival, here are some facts you should know about pancreatic cancer.
10. Types of Pancreatic Cancer
The two main types of cells in the pancreas are exocrine cells and endocrine cells. Exocrine cells make up most of the cells in your pancreas. As part of the exocrine gland, their job is to create the pancreatic enzymes that help you digest your food. A smaller number of cells in the pancreas are the endocrine cells, which are involved in forming hormones such as insulin and glucagon. Exocrine cancers are the most common types of pancreatic cancers. Adenocarcinomas that start in the pancreatic ducts account for the majority of pancreatic cancers. Endocrine pancreatic cancers, often called islet cell tumors or NETs, are far less common.
9. Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be difficult to distinguish from symptoms of other diseases. Unfortunately, this means that pancreatic cancers are not often caught in the early stages. Signs of pancreatic cancer include jaundice or yellowing of the skin, urine that is dark in color, pale and greasy stools, weight loss, and abdominal pain. Painful blood clots called deep vein thromboses may form in a leg. If the bile duct is blocked, your gall bladder may become enlarged, forming a bump under your rib cage.