As the name suggests, pancreatic cancer begins when the cells in the pancreas start growing uncontrollably. The pancreas, being a flat organ located behind the stomach in the abdomen, is responsible for regulating and maintaining the metabolism and digestion of the body.
There are two main pancreatic cancer types: exocrine pancreatic cancer and endocrine pancreatic cancer, or neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer (NETs). These different types of pancreatic carcinomas are classified based on the location of the cancerous cells in the pancreas. For example, exocrine pancreatic cancer initiates in the exocrine cells, while neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer starts in the endocrine cells.
Pancreatic cancer is a severe cancer type that is renowned as a 'silent killer.' The reason is that this type of cancer presents itself as asymptomatic in its early stages. Also, pancreatic cancer symptoms are quite vague and can be mistaken for other lesser-known diseases. Thus, the survival rate of carcinoma of the pancreas is relatively low compared to other cancer forms.
Pancreatic carcinoma is a relatively rare type of cancer when compared to other cancer types. The survival rates for pancreatic cancer are relatively low
The risk of getting pancreatic carcinoma rises with age.
There are two main pancreatic cancer types, and each of these types has subtypes. Here are the top 8 types of pancreatic carcinoma.
The two main pancreatic cancer types are exocrine pancreatic cancer and neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer.
Exocrine cells produce enzymes that assist in the digestion of food, and exocrine pancreatic cancer starts in these cells.
Neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer (NETs) starts in the endocrine cells of the pancreas, which are responsible for producing hormones for regulating different essential body functions.
Here are some other pancreatic cancer types:
Adenocarcinoma pancreatic cancer is a type of exocrine pancreatic carcinoma that forms in the pancreatic ducts and tissues. Adenocarcinoma is an aggressive form of pancreatic carcinoma that spreads quite quickly.
Acinar cell carcinoma is an exocrine carcinoma that starts in the tail or body of the pancreas. This pancreatic cancer type is aggressive and will often need a multimodal treatment approach.
Pancreatic squamous cell carcinoma is a rare type of pancreatic cancer. Unlike other forms of pancreatic carcinoma, it arises from the squamous epithelial cells that line specific structures present in the pancreas.
Adenosquamous cell carcinoma is an aggressive cancer that has features of both squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. These cancerous cells can occur in different parts of the body, including the lungs, esophagus, cervix, and pancreas. When these cells are found in the pancreas, it is called adenosquamous pancreatic cancer.
Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm (IPMN) refers to the development of potential cancerous tumors in the form of projectiles that are finger-shaped and are present inside the pancreatic ducts. These are usually slow in growth but possess the potential to grow into carcinoma of the pancreas.
Mucinous Cystic Neoplasm (MCN) refers to the formation of cystic pre-cancerous tumors in different parts of the body, but mainly in the pancreas. These tumors are characterized by the presence of mucin-producing cells and are found mainly in the tail of the pancreas.
The pancreatic cancer stage implies the extent of the spread of cancer within the pancreas and nearby organs and the size of the tumor.
The TNM system has been developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) for the staging of cancers, such as pancreatic cancer. The system is designed to determine the extent of the spread of the primary tumor, regional lymph node involvement, and the appearance of distant metastasis (M).
Once the TNM parameters are evaluated, pancreatic carcinoma is staged:
Stage 0 pancreatic cancer, also known as carcinoma in situ, refers to the earliest stage of the cancer. In this stage, the cancerous cells have not invaded the nearby tissues or penetrated deep into them but have localized growth.
In stage 1 pancreatic cancer, the cancer grows beyond the cells that are lining the pancreas and may start invading the nearby tissues. However, the cancer at this point has not invaded the nearby lymph nodes or other organs.
2nd stage pancreatic cancer implies that the cancer has moved from the pancreas but has not spread to the other distant essential organs. At this stage, the cancer may have spread to the nearby regional lymph nodes.
3rd stage pancreatic cancer refers to the advanced stage of pancreatic carcinoma, in which the cancer spreads to the nearby lymph nodes and structures. However, the cancer has not spread to distant organs, and the tumor may be large and quite invasive.
4th stage pancreatic cancer is considered to be the final stage of pancreatic cancer. At this stage, the cancer spreads to distant tissues and organs. Stage 4 pancreatic cancer is also referred to as metastatic pancreatic carcinoma.
Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive and rare form of cancer that is not easily diagnosed in its early stages. It is also one of the cancers with relatively poor survival rates. For effective management, doctors often recommend going for regular checkups.