Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and women in the U.S. Pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant cells grow out of control.

Types of pancreatic cancer

There are several types of pancreatic cancers, including:

  • Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas – the most common pancreatic cancer, which occurs in the lining of the pancreatic duct.
  • Cystadenocarcinoma – a rare pancreatic cancer.
  • Acinar cell carcinoma – a rare pancreatic cancer.

Benign (noncancerous) tumors

Some benign (noncancerous) tumors in the pancreas include:

  • Insulinoma – a rare pancreatic tumor that secretes insulin, the hormone that lowers glucose levels in the blood.
  • Gastrinoma – a tumor that secretes above average levels of gastrin, a hormone that stimulates the stomach to secrete acids and enzymes. Gastrinoma can cause peptic ulcers.
  • Glucagonoma – a tumor that secretes glucagon, a hormone that raises levels of glucose in the blood, leading to a rash.