Common Terms related to pancreatic cancer
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If the cancer is only in the pancreas (or has spread just beyond it) and the surgeon can remove the entire tumor, it is called resectable.

Locally advanced (unresectable)

If the cancer has not yet spread to distant organs but it still can't be completely removed with surgery, it is called locally advanced. Often the reason the cancer can't be removed is because too much of it is present in nearby blood vessels. Since the cancer cannot be removed entirely by surgery, it is also called unresectable. For these tumors, surgery would only be done to relieve symptoms or problems like a blocked bile duct or intestinal tract.


When the cancer has spread to distant organs, it is called metastatic. Surgery may still be done, but the goal would be to relieve symptoms, not to cure the cancer.