Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

pp 1561-1563

Pancreatic Cancer

  • Stephan DiSean KendallAffiliated withMedicine, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University
  • , Gerard C. BlobeAffiliated withMedicine, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University


Exocrine pancreatic cancer; Pancreatic carcinoma; Pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Definition and Characteristics

Includes cancers of the exocrine pancreas, excluding tumors derived from the pancreatic islets. Pancreatic cancer has an extremely poor prognosis, with mortality rates nearly matching incidence rates [1]. Incidence is rare before age 45, but increases steadily thereafter. The majority of patients have regional or distant spread at diagnosis. Risk factors include cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and chronic pancreatitis. Multiple hereditary syndromes increase the risk for pancreatic cancer as well, including hereditary chronic pancreatitis, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, BRCA2, ataxia-telangectasia, and familial atypical multiple-mole melanoma (FAMMM) [1]. Patients with hereditary pancreatic cancer develop pancreatic cancer earlier in life compared to sporadic cases.


232,241 new cases and 226,949 deaths yearly wo ...

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