What is Pancreatic Cancer?

A closer look at the pancreas.

The pancreas is a gland located deep in the abdomen, between the stomach and the spine. The liver, intestine, and other organs surround it. Shaped like a flattened pear and about six inches long, the widest part is called the head, the middle section is called the body and the narrowest part is called the tail.

The pancreas is made up of two main types of cells:

Roswell Park also diagnoses and treats non-malignant or pre-cancerous conditions of the pancreas. Expert diagnosis is essential to treating these conditions before becoming cancerous and to avoid unnecessary surgery:


Like many cancers, pancreatic cancer presents few warning signs. Any symptoms often resemble those of other illnesses, such as diabetes, and may include:

  • Dark urine, pale stools
  • Stools that float in the toilet
  • Middle back pain, that is unrelieved by position change
  • Non-specific upper belly pain
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite; feeling of fullness