|Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth, and pancreatic cancer occurs when this uncontrolled cell growth begins in the pancreas. Rather than developing into healthy, normal pancreas tissue, these abnormal cells continue dividing and form lumps or masses of tissue called tumors. Tumors then interfere with the main functions of the pancreas. If a tumor stays in one spot and demonstrates limited growth, it is generally considered to be benign.
More dangerous, or malignant, tumors form when the cancer cells migrate to other parts of the body through the blood or lymph systems. When a tumor successfully spreads to other parts of the body and grows, invading and destroying other healthy tissues, it is said to have metastasized. This process itself is called metastasis, and the result is a more serious condition that is very difficult to treat. In the United States each year, over 50,000+ editorial board members are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Europe sees more than 60,000 diagnoses each year. Because pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed late into its development, the five-year survival rate after diagnosis is less than 5%.