Pancreatic cancer is an abnormal uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas. The cancer begins in the pancreatic ducts and spreads into the body of the pancreas. The surrounding nerves and blood vessels may also be infiltrated with cancerous cells. The cancer can spread to other organs via the lymphatic system.

Pancreatic cancer is often referred to as a ‘silent disease’ as it is frequently diagnosed in the later stages of growth. This is because the pancreas is located behind the stomach and the cancer can remain undetected until it grows large enough to affect nearby organs. Prognosis is poor for patients with pancreatic cancer, and alarmingly, treatments and survival rates have not changed for almost 40 years.

For the latest information about pancreatic cancer research at the Garvan Institute, visit



Support is vital for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, their loved ones and carers. The Cancer Council has a number of support services available, including face-to-face, telephone and online support and resources for patients, families and carers; advice and practical support for financial, legal, travel and accommodation issues; workplace support for patients, and support for patients following treatment.

To find out about available support services, call the Cancer Council on 13 11 20, or visit


The following local and international web sites contain useful information:

In Australia

Cancer Australia
Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation
Garvan Institute of Medical Research
GI Cancer Institute
Pancare Foundation

International sites