Pancreatic Cancer

Any cancer diagnosis will change your life, and pancreatic cancer is no exception. That’s why INTEGRIS is with you every step of the way.

Let’s do this together.

Pancreatic Cancer Basics

A cancer diagnosis is always life-changing, and pancreatic cancer is no different. But at INTEGRIS, you have the depth and breadth of INTEGRIS and the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute behind you, with the region’s foremost collection of therapies, physicians and specialists.

We’re here for you every step of the way, from the first diagnosis and staging to treatment and even beyond – with rehabilitation designed specifically for cancer survivors.

The Multidisciplinary Cancer Clinic

Pancreatic cancer treatment used to mean dozens of appointments at different facilities with multiple specialists, but with our Multidisciplinary Cancer Clinic, the process is streamlined. We gather our physicians and specialists in one room to decide the best course of treatment for you. That means the time you have to spend between diagnosis and treatment is dramatically reduced.

We know this can be a challenging time, so please ask your physician about any concerns or questions you might have.

Understanding Pancreatic Cancer

If you think you may be suffering from pancreatic cancer, it’s best to talk with your physician. Symptoms caused by pancreatic cancer could also be caused by a variety of other health problems, and only a doctor can accurately diagnose their cause. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Indigestion, especially after eating fatty foods
  • Jaundice (yellowing of eyes, skin, or nails)
  • Upper-abdominal or upper-back pain
  • Pale, greasy stools that float in the toilet
  • Dark yellow or brown urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained or unintentional weight loss
  • Pain, redness or swelling in the legs
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Uneven, lumpy, fatty tissue under the skin

If your doctor thinks you might have pancreatic cancer, exams and tests will be required to reach an accurate diagnosis. This begins with your physician asking questions about your health history, symptoms, risk factors and family history of disease, and may continue with more in-depth tests:

  • CT Scan: This test makes detailed 3-D pictures of organs and tissues in your pelvis or abdomen. You may receive contrast material by mouth and by injection into your arm or hand to helps the organs or tissues show up more clearly.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A test that uses a large magnet, radio signals, and a computer to make images of organs and tissue in the body.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan: A PET scan is a powerful, non-invasive, imaging technique that accurately images the biological function of the human body.

Several types of treatment can be used for pancreatic cancer. Which may work best for you? It depends on a number of factors. These include the type, size, location, and stage of your cancer. Other important factors include your age, overall health and what side effects you find acceptable. Your doctor can answer any questions or concerns you have.

Surgery

  • Overview: You may have surgery to diagnose, stage and treat pancreatic cancer. These surgical procedures include:
  • Fusion Biopsy: An examination of tissue removed from your body to discover the presence, cause, or extent of a disease, like cancer.
  • Polypectomy: Removal of colorectal polyps in order to prevent them from turning cancerous.
  • Colectomy: A surgical procedure used to remove a portion of the colon – usually the portion that appears cancerous. The surgeon may also remove areas surrounding the cancer and some nearby lymph nodes.
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery: Surgery will be minimally invasive whenever possible. This could include use of a laparoscope (a small, fiber-optic instrument inserted through the abdominal wall) or robotic surgery.
  • Endoscopic Mucosal Resection (EMR): technique used to remove cancerous or other abnormal lesions found in the digestive tract.

Radiation Therapy

  • Overview: Radiation Therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Types of radiation therapy include:
  • Image-Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT): Uses frequent two and three-dimensional imaging to direct radiation therapy more accurately.
  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): Advanced, high-precision radiotherapy that uses computer-controlled linear accelerators to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant tumor or specific areas within the tumor.
  • Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT): Uses very focused beams of high does radiation that more directly target a tumor.

Medical Oncology

  • Overview: INTEGRIS medical oncology is a dedicated group of medical oncologists specializing in diagnosing and the caring for cancer patients with a variety of medicine options. These treatments are administered orally or intravenously depending upon the treatment plan developed by your multidiscipline cancer care team.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy’s main method of function is to interfere with cancerous cells’ ability to develop and multiply. A patient may be prescribed a combination of a few types of chemotherapy, and it may also be prescribed in tandem with additional treatments, like radiation or surgery.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy uses medicines that target specific parts of certain types of cancer cells, interfering with their ability to grow and survive. The therapies are specific to each person's cancer.
  • Immunotherapy: This is a way to use the body's immune system to help treat or prevent many health problems. It may be used to treat or manage cancer.
  • Adjuvant Therapy: Chemotherapy or radiation soon after surgery is called adjuvant treatment. The goal of adjuvant treatment is to kill any cancer cells that may be left after the surgery. Even if there is no sign of cancer cells, your physician may suggest adjuvant treatment, as it may lower the risk that the cancer will come back or spread
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy: If hormone therapy is given before the primary treatment – it is called neoadjuvant therapy. Your doctor may prescribe hormone therapies before some cancer treatments or after other cancer treatments. If hormone therapy is given before the primary treatment, it is called neoadjuvant treatment. Neoadjuvant treatments help kill cancer cells and contribute to the effectiveness of the primary therapy.

At INTEGRIS, we offer a wide variety of support programs and services along with the Troy and Dollie Smith Wellness Center to help patients with breast cancer and their loved ones manage the physical and emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Support services for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Cancer screenings
  • Clinical social work services
  • Counseling
  • Integrative medicine clinic
  • Mind, body therapies including acupuncture, massage, and yoga
  • Multi-disciplinary clinic coordination
  • Nutrition consultations
  • Pastoral care, spiritual support and relaxation techniques
  • Patient and family support groups
  • Patient navigation and survivor care planning
  • Research and clinical trials
  • Resource Room

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