Types of pancreatic cancer
There are several different types of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer types are described according to:
- where they are in the pancreas
- the type of cell they start from.
Cancer can occur in any part of the pancreas. But around 6 out of 10 pancreatic cancers (60%) start in the head of the pancreas.
More than 9 out of 10 pancreatic cancers (95%) develop in the exocrine cells that make pancreatic juices.
Cancers that develop in the endocrine cells can behave differently to those that develop in the exocrine cells. This means they can cause different symptoms.
The most common type of exocrine pancreatic cancer is:
- Ductal adenocarcinoma
It starts from cells in the lining of the pancreatic ducts.
Less common types include:
These cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the pancreas that can be cancerous.
Acinar cell carcinomas
These start from cells at the end of the ducts that make pancreatic juice.
Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN)
These develop in the pancreatic duct and produce mucus.
There are other rare types of pancreatic cancer. Most of these are investigated and treated differently from exocrine cancers of the pancreas. They include:
Pancreatoblastoma is a rare type of cancer that mainly affects children.
Pseudopapillary neoplasms are rare, slow-growing tumours that mostly affect women.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our pancreatic cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
British Society of Gastroenterology. Guidelines for the management of patients with pancreatic cancer peri-ampullary and ampullary carcinomas. 2005.
European Society for Medial Oncology. Cancer of the pancreas: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology, 2015. 26 (Supplement 5): v56 to v68.
Fernandez-del Castillo. Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and staging of exocrine pancreatic cancer. UpToDate online. Jan 2018.
Fernandez-del Castillo C, et al. Supportive care of the patient with locally advanced or metastatic exocrine pancreatic cancer. UpToDate online. Feb 2017.
Winter JM, et al. Cancer of the pancreas, DeVita Hellman and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (10th edition). Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. 2016.
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Chief Medical Editor, Professor Tim Iveson, Consultant Medical Oncologist.
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