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All About Pancreatic Cancer

By DMG Integrated Oncology Program

Cancer, in general, is a scary term. Educating yourself about cancer and knowing about the specific type of cancer you are facing can help you make decisions in your treatment plan. Let’s take a closer look at pancreatic cancer.

What is the pancreas?

Your pancreas is an organ that lies horizontally at the back of the abdominal cavity. It helps with digestion and secretes the hormone that regulates sugar metabolism. Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas.

What are the symptoms?

Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer often doesn’t have any signs or symptoms until the disease is in an advanced stage. When they do appear, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Upper abdominal pain that may radiate to your back
  • Yellowing of your skin and whites of your eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Blood clots
What are the risk factors?

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:

  • African-American race
  • Excess body weight
  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Smoking
What are the treatment options?

There are many treatment options for pancreatic cancer. If your cancer is confined to the pancreas, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery could entail removing the front portion of your pancreas, along with part of your small intestine, gallbladder and bile duct. Alternatively, surgery could mean removing the tail portion of the pancreas and possibly your spleen. What will be removed depends on where your cancer is located. In addition, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are often used, especially if the cancer has spread outside of the pancreas.

Can pancreatic cancer be prevented?

While there is no proven way to prevent pancreatic cancer, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Choose a healthy diet


At DMG, we have a Hepatopancreatobiliary Clinic as part of our Integrated Oncology Program where pancreatic cancer is treated. To schedule an appointment, please call 630-364-7850.

Topics and Subtopics: Cancer

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