Pancreatic tumours


HCA UK experts can explain the symptoms of pancreatic tumours and offer advice on the treatments available

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Mr David Nasralla


The pancreas produces digestive juices and hormones. Tumours that form on the pancreas can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Tumours start in different parts of the pancreas. Understanding the type of cell the tumour started in and exactly where in the pancreas, will help your consultant decide the treatment you need.

Need to know

Symptoms can vary depending on where the tumours are in the pancreas. The symptoms are not precise but may include:

  • pain in the tummy area
  • back pain
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • weight loss

You might experience other symptoms such as:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • fever
  • shivering
  • indigestion (heartburn)
  • blood clots

As these symptoms can often be caused by other conditions, it’s a good idea to get checked by your GP or consultant if you notice them.

Your GP or consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and examine you. They may also look at your skin to check for signs of jaundice (yellowing) and ask for a urine test and a blood test. If pancreatic tumours are suspected, tests may include:

  • ultrasound scan
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • PET scan
  • PET-CT scan

Depending on the results of initial tests, your consultant may also recommend:

  • endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
  • endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • laparoscopy
  • magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)
  • biopsy

A small tissue sample is taken from a suspected tumour.

Cancerous tumours in your pancreas can be difficult to treat. In the early stages, the symptoms are not very noticeable, so they are often not diagnosed until the advanced stages. If your tumour is large or has spread to other parts of your body, treatment options may be more complex. Your consultant will discuss the best treatment for you. This will depend on the type and location of your tumour and how advanced it is. Your age and your overall health will also be taken into consideration. Treatment options may include:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy

However in the advanced stages, surgery is not always an option.

Types of cancerous pancreatic tumours


This is the most common type. They start in the cells lining the ducts of the pancreas

Cystic tumours

These are cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in the pancreas. Most pancreatic cysts are benign (non-cancerous) but some are cancerous

Cancer of the acinar cells

Located at the ends of the ducts that produce pancreatic juices. They tend to occur in younger people and are slower growing

Endocrine pancreatic tumours

These are uncommon and start in the endocrine pancreas, where insulin and other hormones are made and released directly into the bloodstream


These are very rare tumours that mainly occur in children

Sarcomas of the pancreas

These are extremely rare. They involve the connective tissue that holds together the cells of the pancreas

Our Pancreatic tumours locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
University College Hospital Private Care

University College Hospital Private Care

Grafton Way Building, 1 Grafton Way WC1E 6AG London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
Private Care at Guy's

Private Care at Guy's

London Bridge Hospital Private Care at Guy's SE1 9RT London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.