Description The pancreas, located in the abdomen, play an important role in converting food into fuel for the body’s cells. It has two main functions: an exocrine function (that helps in digestion) and an endocrine function (that regulates blood sugar). The pancreas produces the hormone insulin and secretes it into the bloodstream where it regulates the body’s glucose or sugar level.
Symptoms: Pancreatic cancer may manifest itself in vague signs: abdominal or back pain, loss of appetite, jaundice, weight loss, nausea, recent onset of diabetes and stool changes.
Causes: Risk factors include family history (if several close relatives have had the disease or any were diagnosed below the age of 50 years), diet (red and processed meats potentially increases risk; a diet high on fruits and vegetables decreases risk), obesity (excess weight carries an increased risk of developing the disease), smoking (it is estimated that 20% of all exocrine pancreatic cancer cases can be caused by smoking), gender (more men than women are diagnosed), age (chances of developing pancreatic cancer increases as a person grows older) and long-standing diabetes.