Pancreatic cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the pancreas that results in a tumor. If the abnormal cells originated in the pancreas, it is considered a primary pancreatic tumor. In this case, most tumors begin in the ducts of the pancreas and are called adenocarcinomas. If the abnormal cells originated in the pancreas and were carried to other parts of the body through blood or other bodily fluids, then it is considered a metastatic pancreatic tumor.
It is estimated that 37,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer will occur in the United States in 2008, and an estimated 34,000 people will die from this disease in 2008 alone.1 Over 200,000 cases of pancreatic cancer occur annually throughout the world.2 Left untreated, median survival is about 4 months; although only 2% of cancers in the United States are pancreatic, it is the 4th leading killer.3 Its low rate of cure reflects, in part, the fact that a large proportion of pancreatic cancers are advanced when they are first detected.