Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and other exocrine tumours

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common type of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC)

About 95 out of 100 (95%) of all pancreatic cancers are pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).

PDAC is a type of exocrine pancreatic cancer. It develops from cells lining small tubes in the pancreas called ducts (duct cells in this diagram). These carry the digestive juices, which contain enzymes, into the main pancreatic duct and then on into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine).

PDAC can grow anywhere in the pancreas, though it is most often found in the head of the pancreas. Symptoms can include tummy (abdominal) and back pain, weight loss and changes to bowel habits. Read more about the symptoms of PDAC.

Rare exocrine cancers

One in a hundred pancreatic cancers (1%) are rare exocrine cancers.

Acinar cell carcinoma

Fewer than one out of a hundred pancreatic cancers (less than 1%) are acinar cell carcinomas. Acinar cell carcinoma is more common in men. It develops in the acinar cells at the end of the ducts (see diagram), which produce the digestive enzymes. Symptoms can include tummy pain, weight loss, and feeling and being sick (nausea and vomiting).

Solid pseudopapillary neoplasm

Solid pseudopapillary neoplasms grow mostly in the body and tail of the pancreas. They are more common in younger women. Symptoms can include a lump in the tummy, tummy pain, weight loss and sickness.


This rare type of pancreatic cancer mostly affects children. It is extremely rare in adults.

Questions about pancreatic cancer?

If you have any questions about your cancer, speak to your medical team.

You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our Support Line.

Speak to our nurses
Specialist nurse, Lisa, talks on the phone to offer support.

Updated: November 2018

Review date: November 2021