Alan Rickman aka Severus Snape from the "Harry Potter" films, passed away on Thursday in London. He was 69 years old. His publicist, Catherine Olim, confirmed his death and said the cause was cancer. His cause of death came as a surprise to a lot of people who were unaware that he was terminally ill. What type of cancer did Rickman suffer from? According to sources close to him, he had pancreatic cancer.

In an exclusive report from Showbiz 411, sources revealed to entertainment news journalist and American film critic Roger Friedman that Rickman suffered from cancer of the pancreas. It's also possible that he had a mild stroke around August, which reportedly led to the diagnosis of his cancer. His health rapidly declined after that. Despite being sick, he still managed to watch the musical "Hamilton" with his wife Rima Horton in New York in December. Unfortunately, Rickman wasn't able to last until the end of January.

Cancer has become one of the leading causes of death. In fact, David Bowie also died on Sunday because he suffered from liver cancer. Meanwhile, Celine Dion's husband René Angélil passed away on Thursday from throat cancer. Rickman's type of cancer is not that popular and is quite tricky to diagnose early. Here's some important information that can shed some light about this deadly disease.

Things To Know About Pancreatic Cancer:

There are two types of pancreatic cancer.

a. P ancreatic exocrine cancer or P ancreatic adenocarcinoma

Most pancreatic cancers are formed in exocrine cells or cells that line the ducts of the pancreas. According to Cancer.gov, exocrine pancreas cells are the ones that make the enzymes that help the body digest food. These are released into the small intestine. Most pancreatic cancers are formed in exocrine cells which do not cause symptoms or show signs because these kinds of tumors do not secrete hormones.

b. Pancreatic endocrine cancer or Islet cell cancer

This rare type of pancreatic cancer forms in the cells of the pancreas that produce hormones. This consists of malignant pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Islet cell cancers reportedly have a better prognosis than pancreatic exocrine cancers.

Pancreatic cancer happens when pancreas cells develop mutations in its deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

The DNA mutations in the cells of the pancreas cause it to grow and accumulate, which can form a tumor.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include:

  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Blood clots
  • Jaundice |(skin and the whites of eyes turn yellow)
  • Upper abdominal pain that may radiate to one's back

These factors may increase the risk of getting pancreatic cancer:

  • Smoking
  • Excess body weight
  • Diabetes
  • Personal or family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • African-American race
  • Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk such as Lynch syndrome, familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) and BRCA2 gene mutation.

Current treatments do not cure most patients with pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer treatments include surgery for tumors, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy. Unfortunately, those with exocrine pancreatic cancer do not have a lot of options when it comes to finding a cure for their particular type of cancer.  

According to Mayo Clinic, even if patients are diagnosed early, the disease typically spreads rapidly. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer also have a tendency to appear when the disease is already in the advanced stage and complete surgical removal is not possible anymore. This is why Rickman's death came as a surprise to everyone.

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was born on Feb. 1, 1946 in Acton, London, England. He was both an actor and a director who has appeared in several films including "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," "Die Hard with a Vengeance," "Sense and Sensibility," "Love Actually" and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Aside from playing Severus Snape in "Harry Potter," Rickman is also known for his role in the 1988 film "Die Hard." He played the villain Hans Gruber. His colleagues including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson, Emma Watson and even "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling expressed their grief and posted tributes to him on social media.

"I'm very sad to hear about Alan today. I feel so lucky to have worked and spent time with such a special man and actor. I'll really miss our conversations. RIP Alan. We love you," Watson wrote on her Facebook account.

"Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I've ever met in the film industry. He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter," Radcliffe wrote on Facebook.