Pancreatic Cancer – Types & Stages

Cancer Treatment Centers in Scottsdale, Glendale, & Payson, AZ


A cancer diagnosis is one of the scariest things life can throw at you – but at Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we believe there’s hope no matter what. We’re proud to provide world-class cancer treatment from our six state-of-the-art Phoenix cancer centers, and we work with patients to create comprehensive treatment plans that fit into your lifestyle. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we’re here to help you fight it – and understanding the type and stage of the cancer is the first step.


Types of Pancreatic Cancer


Broadly, pancreatic cancer is subdivided into two main types, depending on the type of cell the cancer begins in. Exocrine pancreatic cancer starts in the cells that produce digestive juices and make up the majority of pancreatic cancer cases, while endocrine pancreatic cancer is rarer and starts in cells that produce hormones.


There are several subtypes of exocrine pancreatic cancer, including:


  • Adenocarcinoma: The most common exocrine pancreatic cancer, normally starting in the ducts of the pancreas.
  • Cystic Tumors: A rare cancer that causes a cyst to form in the pancreas.
  • Cancer of the Acinar Cells: Cancer that starts in the acinar cells, which are at the end of the pancreas and produce pancreatic juices.


Endocrine cancer sometimes produce hormones (functioning cancers), and is subdivided into types based on the hormone it produces:


  • Gastrinomas: Produce a hormone called gastrin
  • VIPomas: Produce a hormone called VIP
  • Somatostatinomas: Produce somatostatin
  • Insulinomas: Produce insulin
  • Glucagonomas: Produce glucagon


Some endocrine tumors do not produce hormones (non functioning). These generally have a poorer outlook than functioning pancreatic tumors.


Stages of Pancreatic Cancer


As with many other forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer is assessed using a TNM staging system. This measures the following variables:


  • Tumor: How large is the original tumor?
  • Node: How many lymph nodes have cancer cells infected?
  • Metastasis: Has the cancer spread to distant organs?


The stages of pancreatic cancer run as follows:


  • Stage 0: Also called carcinoma in situ, at this stage, the cancer is confined only to the top layers of the pancreatic duct cells.
  • Stage IA: The tumor has not spread beyond the pancreas and is less than 2cm across. It has not spread to lymph nodes or distant organs.
  • Stage IB: The tumor is larger than 2cm, but still confined to the pancreas and has not spread to lymph nodes or distant sites.
  • Stage IIA: The tumor has grown beyond the pancreas but not reached any major blood vessels or nerves. It has not spread to lymph nodes or distant organs.
  • Stage IIB: The tumor may have spread beyond the pancreas, but not to major blood vessels or nerves. It has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but not to distant sites.
  • Stage III: The tumor has spread beyond the pancreas to major blood vessels or nerves. It may or may not have reached nearby lymph nodes, but has not spread to distant sites.
  • Stage IV: Refers to any case where the cancer has spread to distant sites.


Contact Your Phoenix, AZ Cancer Care Center

Fighting pancreatic cancer can be a frightening prospect, but with a world-class cancer treatment team on your side, there’s hope. At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we proudly provide world-class cancer treatments and prioritize noninvasive solutions whenever possible. You deserve the best in your cancer care: contact us today to schedule a consultation or second opinion.

Contact Us Now

SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT or seeking SECOND OPINION? Complete this form and we will contact you within 24-hours.