Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect and diagnose early, mainly because there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.
When symptoms do begin to appear, they are similar to those for many other illnesses.
You should contact your physician if you have any of the following:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eye whites
- Pain in the upper or middle abdomen and back
Treatment depends on the type and stage of pancreas tumors, as well as the age and overall health of the patient.
After diagnostic testing and staging, our team of pancreas cancer specialists works with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.
At UC Irvine Health, we pioneered laparoscopic pancreas surgeries, which significantly reduce side effects and recovery time. We perform more of these procedures than any medical center on the West Coast.
Surgical procedures include:
- The Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy)
The Whipple procedure involves removal of the gallbladder, head of the pancreas, part of the duodenum (a section of the small intestine), part of the stomach and the common bile duct. After those organs are removed, the pancreatic duct, bile duct and stomach are connected to the jejunum (another part of the small intestine) in order for pancreatic juices, bile and food to drain into the small bowel. This procedure can be performed for a variety of reasons, most commonly for cancer of the pancreas, common bile duct or duodenum.
- Distal pancreas resection
This procedure is for tumors involving the tail of the pancreas. Since the spleen is in close proximity to the tail of the pancreas, the spleen also may be removed. We are one of the few U.S. medical centers to offer a laparoscopic alternative for this procedure. This revolutionary approach results in less pain and shorter hospital stays.
Treatment plans for cancer patients may also involve:
- Chemoradiation therapy
- External and internal radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy (with drugs or other substances to attack cancer cells)
Our UC Irvine health pancreas cancer team is comprised of a multidisciplinary group of internists, medical oncologists, surgeons, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
Our core team members include: