What is pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells appear in the pancreas. The pancreas is a pear-shaped gland, about 6 inches long, that that lies behind the stomach and in front of the spine. It has two basic functions.
- First, to produces digestive enzymes that help break down and digest food in the small intestine. This function is performed by cells called exocrine cells.
- Second, to produce hormones like insulin and glucagon, that regulate blood sugar levels and are critical for tissues and organs. This function is performed by cells called endocrine cells.
Approximately 95% of pancreatic cancers begin in exocrine cells and are known as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC).