The pancreas is a gland that lies within the abdomen close to the stomach and duodenum (first part of the small bowel). It is important for making digestive juices and hormones such as insulin. Each year in Canada, cancer of the pancreas affects approximately 4500 individuals. Pancreatic cancer may not be as common as other types of cancer, but unfortunately it contributes to a large proportion of cancer deaths. The chance of developing pancreatic cancer at some point in life is close to 1 in 80, or about 1 per cent. Most cases of pancreatic cancer occur after the age of 50, and it is slightly more common in males than in females.
About the Pancreas Cancer Registry
Our registry has been collecting information about patients who have been affected by pancreatic cancer and their families. To date, we have close to 2000 families enrolled in our registry. Some of these families have one case of pancreatic cancer and others have several family members diagnosed with the disease. Currently, most of our research is based on the more common form of pancreatic cancer — adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.
Information from all types of families will contribute to a better understanding of pancreatic cancer. Families which appear to have other hereditary cancer syndromes (i.e., passed on in families) may be referred to specialty registries or a cancer genetics centre locally or abroad.