Pancreas and pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor within the pancreatic gland.  About 95% of pancreatic tumors are adenocarcinomas; the remaining 5% are pancreatic endocrine tumors.  Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is difficult because the symptoms are so nonspecific and varied.  Common symptoms include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, significant weight loss, and painless jaundice.  All of these symptoms can be blamed on other causes.  Therefore diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is often late stage in its development.  Jaundice occurs when the tumor grows and pressure obstructs the common bile duct.  Tumors of the head of the pancreas will more easily give rise to such symptoms.  Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include age, male gender, African ethnicity, smoking, diet high in meat, obesity, diabetes.  Chronic pancreatitis has linked to occupational exposure to certain pesticides, dyes and chemicals related to gasoline, family history, and helicobacter pylori infection.

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