Types and Stages

Pancreatic Cancer Types & Stages

The greatest factor determining treatment and outlook of any cancer is how far it has spread. Once doctors understand the type and stage of the cancer they are dealing with, they can create a Palmer pancreatic cancer treatment plan. Because pancreatic cancer moves so fast, it is important to develop a plan quickly no matter what stage the cancer is in.

Determining Type

There are two main types of cells in the pancreas: exocrine and endocrine. Each type of cell has a risk of developing cancer, but the type of cell and hormone affected will determine treatment.

  • Exocrine: Most pancreatic cancers are with exocrine cells, and most of those are pancreatic adenocarcinoma. However, other types of exocrine cancer tumors include undifferentiated carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, signet ring cell carcinoma, and adenosquamous carcinoma.
  • Endocrine: Only about 5 percent of pancreatic cancer diagnoses are related to the endocrine cells. These tumors are known as NETs, or neuroendocrine tumors. NETs may be functioning, where they make an excess of hormones and produce more obvious symptoms; nonfunctioning, meaning they do not make excess hormones and have less obvious symptoms; or carcinoid tumors, which make serotonin. Carcinoid tumors rarely start in the pancreas.

Determining Stage

Doctors at our Palmer cancer center look at different aspects of the tumors in order to determine the stage. When test results come back, they will usually have a T, N, or M next to it.

  • T: The size of the tumor and if it has started growing into organs near the pancreas. It is followed by a number 0 through 4.
  • N: Determines the spread of cancer into lymph nodes near the pancreas. It is followed by either a 0 (the cancer has not spread) or 1 (the cancer has spread).
  • M: Identifies metastasis, or if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. It is followed by a 0 (it has not spread) or 1 (it has spread).

An X means doctors could not assess the tumor. Doctors combine these three numbers to identify stage, which could be I through IV.

Use these links to find out more about pancreatic cancer:

How Do You Find Appropriate Treatment?

Although pancreatic cancer is relatively rare, it is also fast moving. About 20 percent of patients with a diagnosis make it through to the next year. There are many factors that affect survival rate, including the type and stage of the cancer and the Palmer pancreatic cancer treatment methods used. At Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center, hope is here. Our doctors will create a plan tailored to your needs, and we will explore all of our options to fight your cancer. For more information about our treatment methods, contact us by calling 907-707-1333.