Where does pancreatic cancer develop?

The commonest type of pancreatic cancer develops in the pancreatic ducts and glands that, when healthy,  are involved with making the pancreatic digestive enzymes and transporting the pancreatic juice to the intestine.

Exocrine Tumours

These make up about 90% of all pancreatic cancers and arise from the cells that line ducts in the pancreas that carry digestive fluid from the gland into the intestine.  This is known as a pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Cancer of the pancreas may be called pancreatic cancer or carcinoma of the pancreas. Other exocrine tumours include types known as adenosquamous carcinomas and undifferentiated carcinomas.

There are other types of cancer that present in similar ways (ampullary cancer, duodenal cancer and cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)), but which have differing treatment options and responses to treatment.

Endocrine Tumours

These are known as neuroendocrine tumours that sometimes produce hormones and are much less common.

Click the link for more information on pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours

Clarifying the exact type with your specialist team may help you understand proposed treatment.

Back to common questions asked about pancreatic cancer

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Information Product No. PCA0011 version1 (Published 03/01/2014) p6 | Published: 20/10/2012 | Last Updated: 16/04/2015 | Next Review Due: 20/10/2015