Pancreatic Cancer

At Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, internationally renowned experts who specialize in treating pancreatic cancer work together to provide patients with the highest standard of care and treatment. Our center treats approximately 600 new patients with pancreatic cancer each year using the most advanced expertise and treatments to improve outcomes for all of our patients. Our center gives patients the best chance at recovering from pancreatic cancer by focusing on the individual physical and emotional needs of our patients. Survival rates for pancreatic cancer continue to improve, especially when diagnosed at an earlier stage, when it is most treatable. That is why the center is committed to finding the best treatment for each patient early on, without delay, while remaining dedicated to their quality of life.

Our high-volume surgical team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is steadily advancing pancreatic surgery, using minimally invasive techniques, including robotic surgeries, when able. They are devoted to innovative research into the diagnosis and management of pancreatic cancers. Our surgical oncologists provide steadfast support to our patients, helping them navigate their pancreatic cancer journey and ensuring they have the resources they need to succeed. Our team actively listens to all of our patients’ concerns and delivers care that best fits our patients’ unique health needs.

What Is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer occurs when a cell in the pancreas is damaged, causing the malignant (cancer) cell to start growing out of control. The pancreas is an organ located behind the lower part of the stomach. It aids in digestion and maintaining your blood sugar levels.

Pancreatic tumors are often discovered during imaging studies (e.g., CT scans or MRIs) to investigate symptoms or during an evaluation for another condition. They may also be found during genetic screening for families with a history of pancreatic cancer.


The main type of pancreatic cancer is adenocarcinoma. Roughly 95 percent of pancreatic cancers are adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinoma is cancer that begins in exocrine pancreas cells, which produce digestive fluids (enzymes) that help break down fats, sugars and proteins from food.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) begin in endocrine pancreas cells, which produce hormones, such as insulin, that are released into the blood and control blood sugar levels that help you use and store energy from food. NETs often act in a much slower manner than adenocarcinomas. Many NETs are completely benign and have very different behaviors, risk factors and treatments than adenocarcinomas.

Given that the vast majority of pancreatic cancers are adenocarcinomas, the information on this webpage — from associated risk factors to treatment options — is centered on this type of cancer.

Learn more about pancreatic cancer.

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