About pancreatic cancer

What is the pancreas?

  • The pancreas is a gland that is part of your digestive system. It is 6 inches long and lies across your tummy, behind your stomach.
  • The pancreas makes digestive juices (enzymes) and insulin.
  • The digestive juices break down food so that it can be absorbed into your body.
  • Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of sugar in your blood.

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer happens when cells do not behave as normal and divide and grow without control. Sometimes cancer cells can form a malignant tumour. This can affect how the pancreas works normally.

How common is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is not a common cancer. In 2017 it was estimated that 564 people are diagnosed with this cancer in Ireland each year.

But it is likely to increase in future years due to lifestyle changes. Most cases occur in adults over the age of 60.

Causes and prevention

Date Last Reviewed: 
Wednesday, November 15, 2017