Risk Factors & Prevention
Treatment & Surgery |
Pancreatic Cancer Clinic
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
Unfortunately, because of the location of the pancreas, deep in the body just in
front of the spine, most patients do not develop symptoms until the disease is advanced.
Some people may develop abdominal or back pain, unexplained weight loss, or become
jaundiced (yellow). Surgery is an option for treatment if there is no evidence of
metastases or tumor spread through the pancreas into the adjacent organs. Some patients
with confined small tumors may a combination surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Many
patients can not have surgery because their cancer has already spread beyond the pancreas.
For these patients, alternatives to surgery include chemotherapy and supportive care.
Because pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat, it is important to understand risk factors,
particularly ones that we can change--such as environmental exposures (smoking, toxic chemicals).
In addition, in families that appear to inherit pancreatic cancer, it is now possible to screen
this patients for the development of pre-cancerous changes in the pancreas.