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The pancreas is an organ in the mid-abdomen behind the stomach. It has two functions: to control blood sugar levels and to make special enzymes and juice to help in the digestion of food. Each function is controlled by a different cell type, and pancreatic cancer can originate in two types. Exocrine cells produce the digestive enzymes, and tumors arising from them are more common (95%) than endocrine tumors (Neuroendocrine tumors-(NET)), which can be either malignant or benign. Because endocrine tumors often all look the same under a microscope, diagnosis can be difficult.

There are multiple treatment plans for patients with pancreatic cancer depending on the type, location, and size of the tumor. Often surgery is used in the early initial treatment of pancreatic cancer, or surgery may be reserved until after chemotherapy. Some patients are not candidates for pancreas surgery. When surgery is an option, many different operations can be performed in either a standard “open” surgery or through smaller incisions in a technique known as minimally invasive surgery. 

Our comprehensive multispecialty team diagnoses and treats more upper GI cancer cases than any other hospital in the region. We perform over 100 major surgeries for pancreatic cancer each year, and with these high volumes have improved patient and disease outcomes.