NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Pancreatic Cancer, Version 1.2017
About pancreatic cancer
Unlike normal cells, cancer cells can spread and
form tumors in other parts of the body. The spread of
cancer makes it dangerous. Cancer cells can invade
normal tissue and cause organs to stop working.
Cancer that has spread is called a metastasis.
Cancer that has spread to a nearby body part is
called a local metastasis.
Cancer that has spread to a body part far from
the primary tumor is called a distant metastasis.
Cancer can spread to distant sites through
blood. Two major blood vessels lie behind the
pancreas. The superior mesenteric artery supplies
the intestines with blood. The superior mesenteric
vein returns blood to the heart.
Cancer can also spread through the
lymphatic system. The lymphatic system has a clear
fluid called lymph. Lymph gives cells water and
food. It also has white blood cells that fight germs.
Lymph nodes filter lymph and remove the germs.
Lymph travels throughout the body in vessels like
blood does. Lymph vessels and nodes are found
everywhere in the body.
See Figure 3.
Lymph nodes and vessels
Lymph vessels and nodes are
found everywhere in the body.
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