Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that originates in the pancreas, an organ near the lower stomach that releases enzymes required for digestion and managing blood sugar. It often spreads quickly but shows few symptoms until the cancer is advanced. More than 50,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer typically include unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, blood clots, fatigue, new-onset diabetes, and jaundice. Pancreatic cancer may also cause pain as the growing tumor presses on the nerves in the abdomen. Among the known risk factors for pancreatic cancer are smoking, certain hereditary conditions, chronic pancreatitis, obesity, poor diet, and diabetes.
Treatment options for pancreatic cancer often involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and medication. Common drug classes prescribed to treat pancreatic cancer are pyrimidine analogs and protein kinase inhibitors. Pain-relieving medication may also be prescribed to treat pancreatic cancer.