Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is a cancer that starts in the cells lining the pancreatic ducts which excrete pancreatic enzymes for digestion. These cells grow out of control forming a mass in any part of the pancreas. This mass, or pancreatic adenocarcinoma, may wrap around vessels that supply blood to the pancreas, intestine and liver.
Sometimes the cancer growth blocks the ducts that drain the liver which can lead to jaundice or yellow skin. Many patients with this condition don’t show symptoms. For others, symptoms may include abdominal pain, weight loss, decreased appetite or nausea. This type of cancer is rare but tends to be aggressive. Early treatment for pancreatic adenocarcinoma is best. Ninety-three percent of pancreatic cancers are some type of exocrine adenocarcinoma.
A malignant pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor forms when cells of the pancreas responsible for hormone production develop into an abnormal cancerous growth. Symptoms can vary from severe diarrhea or low blood sugar to no symptoms.
Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor are sometimes called PNETs, and they represent approximately 6% of all pancreatic tumors. These tumors tend to grow slowly and take time to metastasize (or spread). PNETS can metastasize to the liver or other sites.
A pancreatic ampullary adenocarcinoma is a cancer that forms on the opening from the pancreatic duct into the small intestines, called the ampulla of Vater or the hepatopancreatic ampulla. Bile and pancreatic secretions drain through the ampulla of Vater into the intestine to combine with food, aiding the digestion process.
This type of tumor can block the pancreatic duct causing the digestive enzymes to irritate the pancreatic tissue leading to pancreatitis – an inflammation of your pancreas. Pancreatic ampullary adenocarcinoma is considered rare and occurs in about 0.2% of all gastrointestinal cancers.
An intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm is a precancerous condition in which cysts within the pancreas have the potential to turn into pancreatic cancer. There are two types of IPMN:
Side Branch IPMN - cysts form off a side branch of the main pancreatic duct. Patients who have branch duct lesions are at lower risk for developing cancer. There is a 6% to 45% chance that these masses can develop into cancer depending on the size of the lesion and other factors.
Main Duct IPMN - lesions or cysts form on the main pancreatic duct. The cancer risk for main duct intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms is much higher than those located in side branch.
A patient can have both side branch and main duct IPMN. Typically it takes 10 to 15 years for either one of these types of IPMN to become a pancreatic cancer.
Mucinous Cystic Neoplasms are rare tumors of the pancreas. The neoplasm is an abnormal growth of tissue in the pancreas which can be cancerous or noncancerous. An MCN usually grows at a slow rate and approximately 6% to 36% of these tumors turn into an invasive cancer.
Although men can be diagnosed with MCN, this type of neoplasm is most often found in women, 40 to 50 years old.