What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is a large gland that sits deep inside your abdomen, between your stomach, liver and spleen. It has two essential functions:

  • to break down your food and absorb nutrients
  • to help control blood sugar levels



What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is the result of abnormal cell growth in the pancreas gland. When cells begin to act abnormally in the pancreas, they don’t die. This causes cells to grow out of control, and they form a lump. This lump is more commonly known as a tumour.

Two main types of tumours develop in the pancreas:

  • Exocrine tumours – these account for approximately 95% of pancreatic cancer cases. These type of tumours usually start in the lining of the pancreas ducts.
  • Endocrine tumours – these account for around 5% of pancreatic cancer cases. These type of tumours start in the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas.

1 Cancer Australia, Pancreatic cancer in Australia statistics, Cancer Australia, 2020, accessed 5 December 2020.

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Your pancreatic nurse coordinator will be your first point of contact during your treatment journey at Epworth. They will be able to provide answers to any questions that your or your family may have.
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