Pancreas, cancer of

A cancerous tumour of the exocrine tissue of the pancreas. The cause is unknown, but smoking and a high intake of fats or alcohol may be contributing factors. Symptoms include upper abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, and jaundice. There may also be indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and tiredness. In many cases, symptoms do not appear until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Diagnosis usually requires ultrasound scanning, CT scanning or MRI of the upper abdomen, or ERCP. In early stages, pancreatectomy, radiotherapy and anticancer drugs may provide a cure. In later stages, little can be done apart from provision of palliative treatment.


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