At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, pancreatic cancer patients are treated using a multidisciplinary approach. A team of experts including medical, surgical and radiation oncologists works together to develop an individual treatment plan based on each patient’s unique needs.
The most common form of pancreatic cancer, adenocarcinoma, begins in the exocrine pancreas when cells mutate and grow uncontrollably. Another type, pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer (pNET) originates from the endocrine cells within the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ in your abdomen, behind the lower part of your stomach. It releases enzymes that aid in digestion and hormones to manage blood sugar.
The symptoms for pancreatic cancer depend on its location. Tumors in the head of the gland can cause jaundice (yellow skin) and itching. In some cases, weight loss or new onset diabetes can be symptoms. In some cases where the cancer is in the body or tail of the gland, symptoms may not develop until the cancer is more advanced. While there are no current options for routine screening, you should seek medical attention if you have early recognition of any symptoms.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2019 approximately 56,700 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, resulting in nearly 45,750 deaths. Pancreatic cancer risk increases with age, with most people diagnosed between 60 and 80 years of age. While most individuals who develop this disease have no known predisposition, family history and some genetic mutations (eg BRCA) is associated with increased risk of pancreas cancer.
The risk of pancreatic cancer increases with age. Smoking, obesity and chronic pancreatitis also increases your risk for the disease.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may not appear until later stages and vary from patient to patient. More common symptoms include digestive problems, dark-colored urine, swelling in the abdomen and a new diagnosis of diabetes.
Banner MD Anderson doctors perform comprehensive testing to accurately diagnose and stage pancreatic cancer, including image testing, biopsies and laparoscopies.
Depending on the type and stage of the cancer and other factors, treatment options for patients with pancreatic cancer can include surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Your doctors will meet with you to discuss your diagnosis and offer treatment options that will best meet your treatment goals.