Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the pancreas, a large gland that makes juices that help break down food.

Symptoms

There aren’t any noticeable signs or symptoms in the early stages of pancreatic cancer. Because the pancreas is tucked into the abdomen near many other organs like the stomach, liver and spleen, the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, when present, are similar to those of many other illnesses. You should check with your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark urine
  • Pain in the upper or middle abdomen and back
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling very tired

Diagnosis

In addition to all major cancer screening and diagnosis methods, we also offer these techniques when testing for pancreatic cancer:

  • Blood Chemistry Studies – A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances such as bilirubin
  • Tumor Marker Test – A procedure in which a sample of blood, urine, or tissue is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances made by organs, tissues, or tumor cells in the body
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan) – A procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body
  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – A procedure that x-rays the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder, and from the gallbladder to the small intestine
  • Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography (PTC) – A procedure used to x-ray the liver and bile ducts
  • Laparoscopy – A surgical procedure used to look at the organs inside the abdomen to check for signs of disease

Treatment

Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are treatment options for pancreatic cancer. Your care team will work with you to determine your exact course of treatment. Learn more about treatment options.