A pancreatic neoplasm, another word for tumor, is an abnormal growth of pancreas cells that may or may not be cancer, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. The pancreas is made up of two types of glands: the exocrine and the endocrine glands. Most pancreatic neoplasms develop in the exocrine glands. It is important for a pathologist to diagnosis the specific type of neoplasm, as each one has different causes, treatments and prognoses, says the American Cancer Society.
Types of noncancerous or precancerous pancreatic neoplasms include serous cystic neoplasms, mucinous cystic neoplasm and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms. The most common pancreatic cancer is adenocarcinoma, reports the American Cancer Society. Adenocarcinomas can grow large enough to invade nerves and spread to the liver or lymph nodes, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine. Other exocrine cancers include solid pseudopapillary neoplasm, adenosquamous carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, signet ring cell carcinomas, undifferentiated carcinomas and undifferentiated carcinomas with giant cells. A solid pseudopapillary neoplasm is a rare, slow-growing tumor that usually occurs in young women, according to the American Cancer Society.
Endocrine tumors are very rare, making up less than 4 percent of all pancreatic cancers, says the American Cancer Society. There are three main categories of endocrine tumors: functioning, nonfunctioning and carcinoid. Generally, the outlook for endocrine tumors is better than for exocrine tumors of the pancreas.