Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the pancreas and grow out of control. The pancreas lies behind the stomach and has multiple functions. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as pancreatic cancer has different cell types with different treatment options. Cancer Care of North Florida will take careful steps stage and grade the tumor to assess the best way to create and manage your treatment plan. Our goal is to achieve the very best outcome while preserving your quality of life.

Types of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Pancreatic adenocarcinoma
  • Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) – less common

Other types of cancer can start in the pancreas but are more rare:

  • Adenosquamous cell carcinomas
  • Squamous cell carcinomas
  • Signet ring cell carcinomas

What are the risk factors for Pancreatic Cancer?

It may be possible to avoid some risk factors for pancreatic cancer, but some are out of your control. The best plan is to catch it early. Lifestyle and hereditary factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obese
  • Chronic pancreatitis (may be related to a gene change)
  • Workplace exposures
  • Personal history of pancreatic cancer
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Gender/Age/Race

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer Include:

  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored or greasy stools
  • Itchy skin
  • Belly or back pain
  • Gallbladder or liver enlargement
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes

Many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by conditions other than pancreatic cancer but seeking care early can help find cancer earlier and improve outcomes. In most cases, pancreatic cancer is found because of symptoms they cause. Unfortunately, most pancreatic cancers do not cause symptoms until they have reached an advanced stage.

Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

At Cancer Care of North Florida, once cancer has been diagnosed, our specialists may order diagnostic testing and imaging to help determine the stage and extent of the disease. It is very important to do a comprehensive pancreatic cancer work-up to carefully evaluate the extent of the cancer.

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Biopsy and molecular assessment
  • Blood tests and tumor markers
  • Angiography
  • Cholangiopancreatography
  • Endoscopy
  • Chest x-ray
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • PET imaging

Depending on the type and stage (severity) of the pancreatic cancer, the following treatments may be necessary. At Cancer Care of North Florida, we use the most advanced therapies available to treat pancreatic cancer. An individualized plan of care may include multiple types of treatments.

Types of surgery for pancreatic cancer include the following. Surgery, ablation, or embolization are largely dependent upon the location and extent of the tumor.

  • Whipple surgery (removal of the head of the pancreas and sometimes the body including part of the small intestine, part of the bile duct, the gallbladder, lymph nodes in the area and sometimes a part of the stomach)
  • Distal pancreatectomy (removal of tail of pancreas and sometimes the spleen as well)
  • Total pancreatectomy (removal of the entire pancreas, gallbladder, part of stomach and small intestine and the spleen)
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
  • Microwave therapy
  • Ethanol (alcohol) ablation
  • Cryoablation
  • Arterial/Chemo/Radio embolization

Other forms of non-surgical interventions for pancreatic cancer include:

Radiation – Any remaining cancer cells left after surgery are destroyed with high-energy radiation beams. For some pancreatic cancer, treating with chemotherapy at the same time can make radiation therapy work better. It is possible to receive radiation therapy before, during or after surgical intervention. Also, when surgery is not possible, radiation can be used to help slow the growth of the tumor. We work closely with Cancer Care of North Florida Radiation Oncology located on campus.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy (chemo) are anti-cancer drugs that may be given intravenously (injected into your vein) or by mouth. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body. Chemotherapy can sometimes be given before, during or after surgery. At Cancer Care of North Florida, our team provide extensive education and supportive care through your therapy.
Targeted Treatments – Targeted drugs work differently from chemo drugs. They sometimes work when chemo drugs don’t, and they often have different side effects. They can be used either along with chemotherapy or by themselves if chemotherapy is no longer working. Targeted treatment options are determined by further genetic testing of the tumor cells. This type of testing is usually done on the biopsied tissue of the tumor cells.
Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to help a person’s own immune system better recognize and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy can be used to treat some people with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Why Choose Us?

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it is crucial to work with a team of cancer experts who not only have extensive experience, but also a strong track record for achieving the best possible outcome for their patients. While this type of cancer is treatable, the dedicated team Cancer Care of North Florida will initially stage and treat this form of cancer and monitor and treat cancer recurrence or complications that may occur later.

At Cancer Care of North Florida, our physicians are highly specialized in treating multiple types of cancer with the most advanced techniques. Using a team approach, we strive for excellence. We work with each patient to specifically tailor their treatment to their own clinical situation. One of the common diseases that we treat is pancreatic cancer.

  • Highly trained, collaborative oncology specialists all currently taking new patients
  • Consultation appointments scheduled within 3-5 days of referral and in some cases same-day appointments available
  • One-stop campus for comprehensive diagnositics and treatment for many types of cancer including radiation, chemotherapy infusion, lab draws and imaging services
  • Onsite infusion center offers comfortable, home-like setting
  • In-office lab testing
  • In-office medication dispensary
  • Open, immediate access to outpatient symptom management
  • 24-hour physician coverage
  • COPI-certified clinical trials
  • We accept most insurance plans including Medicare, Medicaid, and VA