More than 95% of pancreatic cancers
are classified as exocrine tumors. These tumors start in the exocrine
cells that make pancreatic enzymes that help in digestion. Within this
category, the vast majority of tumors are adenocarcinomas. The following
table describes the different types of pancreatic exocrine tumors.
|Acinar Cell Carcinoma
||Acinar cell carcinoma is a very rare form of pancreatic
cancer that may cause excessive production of pancreatic lipase, the
enzyme secreted to digest fats. Pancreatic lipase levels can be measured
in the blood.
||Adenocarcinoma accounts for about 90% of all pancreatic
cancers. It begins in cells lining the pancreatic duct. Adenocarcinomas
may form glands, or a collection of cells surrounding an empty space.
||Adenosquamous carcinoma is similar to adenocarcinoma
in that it forms glands, but it flattens as it grows. It can mimic
other types of cancer that show squamous, or flattened, cell development.
|Giant Cell Tumor
||Giant cell tumors are extremely rare and may not
be as aggressive as adenocarcinoma. A giant cell tumor has unusually
large cells, but the tumor is not any larger than other pancreatic
|Intraductal Papillary-Mucinous Neoplasm (IPMN)
||An IPMN grows from the main pancreatic duct or from
side branches of the duct. The tumor may appear as a finger-like,
or papillary, projection into the duct. An IPMN may be benign at the
time of diagnosis. However, it has a high risk of progressing to malignancy.
An IPMN may therefore be a precursor for adenocarcinoma.
||Mucinous cystadenocarcinoma is a rare, malignant,
spongy, cystic tumor. The cyst is filled with a thick fluid called
mucin. It is similar to an IPMN, but occurs in just one area of the
||Pancreatoblastoma is a rare form of pancreatic cancer
found primarily in children under the age of 10. It is often called
“pancreatic cancer of infancy.”
||Serous cystadenocarcinoma is a tumor that has progressed
from a benign serous cystadenoma, characterized by many small cysts.
They are extremely rare, accounting for less than 1% of pancreatic
|Solid and Pseudopapillary Tumors
||Solid and pseudopapillary tumors can arise anywhere
in the pancreas. Some parts of the tumor are solid, while other parts
are papillary, or finger-like. These tumors are primarily found in
women in their 30’s and are usually cured if completely removed with
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