Pancreatic Cancer - Types and Stages of Pancreatic Cancer The Complete Overview | HCG

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.

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

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.

How Common is Pancreatic Cancer?

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.

Top 8 Pancreatic Cancer Types

There are two main pancreatic cancer types, and each of these types has subtypes. Here are the top 8 types of pancreatic carcinoma.

Main Types of Pancreatic Cancer

The two main pancreatic cancer types are exocrine pancreatic cancer and neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer.

Specific Types of Pancreatic Cancer

Here are some other pancreatic cancer types:

What are the Pancreatic Cancer Stages?

The pancreatic cancer stage implies the extent of the spread of cancer within the pancreas and nearby organs and the size of the tumor.

TNM system

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:


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

The most common type of pancreatic cancer is Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma.

Among the different types of Pancreatic Cancers, Pancreatic Neuroendocrine tumors have a relatively better prognosis.

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma may cause pain, but the severity may differ from individual to individual, as well as the tumor's size, the extent of spread, and the tumor's size.

There are various risk factors that can increase the chances of an individual getting pancreatic cancer. These include increasing age, genetic mutations, family history of cancer, smoking, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, and diabetes.

Yes, pancreatic cancer is treatable. Nevertheless, like every other cancer type, it is important for this cancer type to be detected in its early stages, as early detection positively impacts clinical outcomes and quality of life post-treatment.

Pancreatic cancers are often diagnosed in advanced stages because they rarely cause symptoms; nearly half of all pancreatic malignancies are not detected until they have already metastasized to other organs.

Pancreatic cysts are common, and most of them are non-cancerous. However, some are cancer-causing, and others are precancerous. Pancreatic cysts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from benign to malignant. Benign cysts usually go away after some time without any medical treatment. However, if a cyst is found, it is important to confirm the type of cyst—benign or malignant—and take appropriate care if necessary.

As many are aware, BRCA mutations are strongly associated with the formation of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. These BRCA mutations appear to be linked to pancreatic cancers as well. A BRCA mutation nearly doubles the risk of pancreatic carcinoma throughout a person’s lifetime. BRCA mutations are found in about 5% of people with this cancer type.