Pancreatic Cancer Types

Adenocarcinoma is the most common cancer of the pancreas, accounting for 95 percent of cases. Adenocarcinoma involves cells that line the pancreatic ducts. Another subtype is Acinar Cell carcinoma, which arises from the cells that make digestive enzymes.

Islet cell carcinoma involves cells that secrete a variety of hormones. Tumors can be functional and produce abnormally high amounts of hormones or non-functional and not produce any hormones. Most islet cell tumors are malignant, but some are benign, such as insulin-producing islet cell tumors.

Pancreaticoblastoma is very rare and usually seen in small children

Isolated sarcomas and lymphomas can occur in the pancreas, but these are exceedingly rare.

Pseudopapillary neoplasms occur mostly in young women in their teens and twenties.

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors

Many factors influence the development of pancreatic cancer, including:

Age: Pancreatic cancer is most common in people more than 60 years of age.

Diet: Diets high in salt, dried or pickled foods lead to a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Smoking: It occurs more frequently in smokers and ex-smokers.

Family History: It occurs more often in families where there is a history of pancreatic and certain other cancers.

Alcohol Use: Limit alcohol consumption.

Genetics and Familial Pancreatic Cancer

People with certain familial cancer syndromes and strong family histories of pancreatic cancer also are at increased risk for pancreatic cancer.

Specific types:

  • BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • HNPCC/Lynch Syndrome
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia

If you have a strong family history of pancreatic cancer or have known mutations in cancer-related genes, consider being evaluated by a genetic counselor in our High Risk Clinic.