Types & Stages | Phoenix CyberKnife Radiation & Oncology Center

Pancreatic Cancer –Types & Stages

Types & Stages of Pancreatic Cancer

When patients are told they must think about starting Phoenix pancreatic cancer treatment, they are bound to have a lot of questions. Pancreatic cancer is rather fast moving. The earlier the diagnosis and the faster treatment can be started, the better the outlook may be. There is a 20 percent one-year survival rate currently, but this depends on many factors, such as the type of pancreatic cancer and its stage. There are two main types of pancreatic cancer: exocrine and endocrine.


Exocrine cancers make up the majority of pancreatic cancer cases. Types of exocrine tumors can include:

  • Pancreatic adenocarcinoma
  • Adenosquamous carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Signet ring cell carcinoma
  • Undifferentiated carcinoma
  • Undifferentiated carcinoma with giant cells
  • Ampullary cancer

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the most common type of exocrine cancer cells, making up 95 percent of exocrine cancer cases.


Endocrine tumors only make up around 5 percent of pancreatic cancer diagnoses. They are also known as islet cell tumors or neuroendocrine tumors, abbreviated to NETs. There are three main types of NETs:

  • Functioning NETs: These make an excess of different hormones depending on the affected cell and tend to cause more obvious symptoms when cancer is present.
  • Nonfunctioning NETs: The affected cells of this type do not make excess hormones, which means symptoms are less obvious. It is more difficult to diagnose this type of cancerous tumor until it has grown larger.
  • Carcinoid tumors: These tumors make serotonin, but it is rare for the cancer to begin in the pancreas.

Interpreting Stage

When determining the stage, oncologists will look at three factors: the size, the spread to any lymph nodes, and metastasis, or the spread to other parts of the body. When pancreatic cancer spreads, it usually moves to the lining covering organs of the abdomen (peritoneum), liver, or lungs. These three areas are identified as T, N, and M followed by a number. The doctors at our Phoenix cancer center combine each number to determine the stage of the cancer, from one to four.

To learn more about the different types and stages of pancreatic cancer, contact Phoenix CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center at 602-441-3845.