Pancreatic cancer

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.

Treatment options

Diagnosing and treating pancreatic cancer can be challenging, and multiple types of treatment may be needed.

Our experienced team of experts includes surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists and geneticists. They will work together to determine the best treatment plan for your individual disease.

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This well-known cancer treatment uses medicines taken intravenously or by mouth to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink tumors, or after to fight cancer cells that have potentially spread.

Distal pancreatectomy
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This operation removes tumors in the left side of the pancreas (body and tail). It typically involves removing the spleen as well.

Minimally invasive surgery
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This technique allows the completion of surgery using several small incisions. The same procedure is performed as when using a standard “open” incision.

NanoKnife® pancreatic surgery
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The NanoKnife® is a novel, non-heat based procedure allowing treatment of locally advanced tumors near blood vessels. It may provide an additional treatment option for some tumors that are otherwise considered inoperable.

Robotic pancreatic surgery
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A minimally invasive technique using the assistance of a surgical robot to complete complex procedures.

Stereotactic radiation therapy
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Non-invasive, radiation therapy directed at the tumor. The stereotactic technique minimizes radiation from affecting normal tissue.

Whipple procedure
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A complex surgery that removes the right side of the pancreas (head) and other nearby structures, then with re-connection of the intestine to the remaining part of the pancreas, bile ducts, and stomach to allow normal digestion of food.

A Powerful Second Opinion

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