The pancreas is an organ located in the upper part of the abdomen. It is in close contact to the stomach, small intestine, liver and spleen. Pancreatic cancer occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the pancreas, which often begins in the pancreatic ducts. The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is still largely unknown, but certain factors are known to increase the risk. They include increasing age, male gender, cigarette smoking, high fat diet, diabetes, and a family history of the disease in close relatives.
Although pancreatic cancer is responsible for over 38,460 deaths a year in the United States, research to study its causes and treatment remains underfunded in this country and abroad.