By the end of 2020 it is expected that 3,933 Australians will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Whilst this is expected to account for only 2.7% of all new cancer diagnoses in Australia, it is also expected that 3,300 people will die of pancreatic cancer in 2020. 

The mortality rates for pancreatic cancer remain high compared to other cancers, with only marginal improvements in survival being achieved over the last forty years. 

This rapid learning provides an overview of pancreatic cancer, its impact on Australians and available treatment options.

By the end of this rapid learning you will be able to:

  • outline the functions of the pancreas
  • describe the different types of pancreatic cancer
  • identify the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer
  • list the factors that may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, including family history
  • outline the current treatment options for pancreatic cancer.

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Reference list

  1. Pandol, S.J., 2011, February. The exocrine pancreas. In Colloquium series on integrated systems physiology: from molecule to function (Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 1-64). Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences.
  2. Cancer Council Australia. 2020. Understanding pancreatic cancer. Cancer Council Australia
  3. Pancreatic cancer (increased risk) – risk management 2019 V.4, eviQ Cancer Treatments Online, Cancer Institute NSW, viewed 23 October 2020,
  4. Cancer Council Australia. 2015. Optimal care pathway for people with pancreatic cancer. Sydney: Cancer Council Australia, viewed 23 October 2020,
  5. Cancer Australia. 2020. Pancreatic cancer. Cancer Australia, viewed 23 October 2020,
  6. Tempero, M.A., Arnoletti, J.P., Behrman, S., Ben-Josef, E., Benson, A.B., Berlin, J.D., Cameron, J.L., Casper, E.S., Cohen, S.J., Duff, M. and Ellenhorn, J.D., 2010. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 8(9), pp.972-1017.
  7. Bockhorn, M., Uzunoglu, F.G., Adham, M., Imrie, C., Milicevic, M., Sandberg, A.A., Asbun, H.J., Bassi, C., B├╝chler, M., Charnley, R.M. and Conlon, K., 2014. International study group of pancreatic surgery. Borderline resectable pancreatic cancer: a consensus statement by the International Study Group of Pancreatic Surgery (ISGPS). Surgery, 155(6), pp.977-988.
  8. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2020. Cancer Data in Australia, Cat. No. CAN 122. Canberra: AIHW. 21 October 2020,
  9. Loveday, B., Lipton, L. and Thomson, B.N., 2019. Pancreatic cancer: An update on diagnosis and management. Australian journal of general practice, 48(12), p.826.


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