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Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and women in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. The majority of pancreatic cancer cases occur in people 50 years of age or older. There are several types of pancreatic cancers, including:
- Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas - The most common type of pancreatic cancer that occurs in the lining of the pancreatic duct
- Cystadenocarcinoma - A rare pancreatic cancer
Some noncancerous tumors in the pancreas include:
- Insulinoma - A rare pancreatic tumor that secretes insulin, which is the hormone that lowers glucose levels in the blood
- Gastrinoma - A tumor that secretes above average levels of gastrin, a hormone which stimulates the stomach to secrete acids and enzymes. Gastrinoma can also cause peptic ulcers.
- Glucagonoma - A tumor that secretes glucagon, a hormone which raises levels of glucose in the blood and leads to a rash
In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for pancreatic cancer may include:
- Endoscopic Ultrasound - A specialized diagnostic technique that uses high-frequency sound waves delivered through an endoscope to create high-quality images of the upper GI tract, including the pancreas
- Computed Tomography (CT or CAT scan) - A non-invasive procedure that takes cross-sectional images of the brain or other internal organs to detect any abnormalities that may not show up on an ordinary x-ray
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - A non-invasive procedure that produces two-dimensional views of an internal organ or structure, especially the brain and spinal cord
- Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) - This procedure involves inserting an endoscope, which is an advanced viewing tube, through the stomach and into the small intestine. A special dye injected during this procedure shows the ducts in the biliary system.
- Biopsy of the Pancreas
- Special Blood Tests