Type Pancreatic Cancer

Type Pancreatic Cancer

Epidemiologists estimate that smoking causes 30 percent of all cases of pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The pancreas has both a digestive and a hormonal function. Composed mainly of exocrine tissue, it secretes enzymes into the small intestine, where they help break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Pockets of endocrine cells called the islets of Langerhans produce glucagon and insulin, hormones that regulate blood-sugar levels. About 95 percent of all pancreatic cancers begin in the exocrine tissue.

Each year about 28,300 Americans and 3,100 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas, a small gland sandwiched between the stomach and intestine that secretes chemicals used in digestion. Epidemiologists estimate that smoking causes about 30 percent of all cases of pancreatic cancer. Men are 30 percent more likely to develop this type of cancer than women, and in the United States, pancreatic cancer affects African Americans more than any other ethnic group.

The pancreas is composed of two different types of glands: exocrine and endocrine glands. Exocrine glands, which make up the bulk of the pancreas, produce enzymes that help the body break down fats and proteins. About 5 percent of the cells in the pancreas are endocrine glands. These cells secrete the hormones insulin and glucagon, which help control blood sugar levels. About 95 percent of all cancers that originate in the pancreas are adenocarcinomas of the exocrine glands. Cancers of the endocrine glands are very rare, and the following discussion pertains to cancer of the exocrine glands.

Although rarer than many types of cancer, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States because it produces few if any symptoms before it metastasizes. When symptoms are present, they may include jaundice, a yellowing of the skin, eyes, and fingernails; abdominal pain; weight loss; and digestive problems. Usually by the time symptoms appear, the cancer has spread to distant organs in the body. For this reason, only about 4 percent of all people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States survive five years or more.

Contributed By:Karen R. Peterson

Related Post:

© 2008-2009 Pshycopymedia All rights reserved. Autism Avian Flu Health Insurance Impotence Type Stomach Cancer Tumor Suppressor GenesInsurance Costs and Quality of Health

Pshycopymedia by: skebber