The pancreas is an organ that sits deep within the abdomen. Symptoms of disease here can be difficult for many patients to identify. As a result, most pancreatic cancers evade detection in the early stages. Once detected, evaluation involves imaging to determine the location and extent of the tumor as well as biopsy to determine the specific type of cancer.
Here are some of the pancreatic cancers we treat:
The most common type of pancreatic cancer grows in the cells that line the pancreatic duct. Most pancreatic cancers are the result of sporadic mutations (in other words, bad luck) and are not associated with known risk factors. Some less potent but known risk factors include smoking, obesity, and family history. Although early detection is important to treating the disease, symptoms like weight loss and loss of appetite do not typically develop until the cancer progresses. Multidisciplinary evaluation at the time of diagnosis is an essential part of the treatment of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, so that we can develop an individualized treatment plan. This may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and enrollment in clinical trials. Also, symptoms such as jaundice, pain, and nutritional concerns need to be addressed by our team of specialists.
Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (pNETs)
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors grow from the islet cells which produce insulin in the pancreas. These rare tumors can often be removed from the pancreas with surgery. In some cases treatment with monthly injections or chemotherapy may be indicated. Novel therapies (Lutathera) and clinical trials are good options for some patients with pNETs.
Solid Pseudopapillary Epithelial Neoplasm (SPEN)
Solid pseudopapillary epithelial neoplasms of the pancreas are rare, abnormal growths in the pancreas that are cancerous, but typically are cured with surgical resection. They occur almost exclusively in young women and can be diagnosed by biopsy or a typical appearance on imaging examinations.
Metastatic Lesions in the Pancreas
Metastatic lesions in the pancreas are uncommon, and refer to a secondary cancer growing in the pancreas that originates in another organ. The primary cancer could be melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung, or others more rarely. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common primary tumor to metastasize to the pancreas. Treatment can involve surgical removal in selected cases, in addition to treating the primary cancer.