Colloquially known as the "silent killer," pancreatic cancer could be one of the most deadly cancers with a 5-year-survival rate of less than 10 percent. Still, it is one of the least understood among the general public.

Within the past year, civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis and "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek were both diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. 

The disease affects the pancreas, the organ responsible for digesting food and regulating blood sugar levels — located between the stomach and the spine. Although it accounts for only 3% of cancers, it causes 7% of cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

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A vast majority of pancreatic cancers take place with cells that help digest food, known as the exocrine pancreas cells, per the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

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