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Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most challenging diseases to treat since it rarely shows symptoms in its early stages. However, aggressive therapies and specialized care can significantly improve outcomes and increase likelihood of a cure.
 
City of Hope has one of the most experienced pancreatic cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team that takes an integrated approach to fighting cancers of the pancreas. This includes using advanced technologies and specialized techniques such as:
 
  • advanced tumor imaging using 3D computed tomography (CT) scans that can improve treatment planning by accurately locating pancreatic cancer
  • minimally-invasive, robotically-assisted techniques for complex surgeries — such as the Whipple procedure — that can remove tumors with less discomfort, reduced risk of complications and shorter recovery times
  • highly precise radiation therapy that can target hard-to-resect tumors with minimal exposure to surrounding normal tissue
  • combination regimens integrating surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy for maximum cancer-fighting effectiveness
 
Additionally, City of Hope patients have access to our extensive team of supportive care experts — including dieticians, supportive medicine physicians and rehabilitation specialists. Working closely with the patient’s primary care team, they can detect and address quality of life issues related to pancreatic cancer and its treatments. This includes managing symptoms (such as pain, nausea and fatigue), adjusting to a new diet and lifestyle post-treatment and being aware of possible long-term effects.
 
 
As one of a handful of institutes to attain the elite designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is acknowledged as a leader in pancreatic cancer research and treatment. With our decades of experience, specialized therapy protocols and extensive program of clinical trials, newly diagnosed or relapsed patients can find a treatment regimen that is tailored to their needs and gives them the best chance for survival. U.S. News & World Report also named City of Hope as one of the top cancer hospitals in the country.
 
 
In collaboration with other departments and cancer centers, City of Hope’s pancreatic cancer program has an active portfolio of clinical trials studying novel treatments, including trials of new surgery, radiation and drug therapy regimens that are more effective against the disease and/or less harmful to the patient. Many of these promising therapies are only available to patients being treated at the City of Hope.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.
 

Pancreatic Cancer Team

About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the pancreas, an organ in the upper abdomen that aids in digestion and secretes various hormones to regulate body functions (such as insulin to control blood-sugar levels.)
 
Pancreatic cancers are classified based on the type of cells affected: exocrine (which produce the digestive juices that go into the small intestine) or endocrine (which produce several hormones that go directly into the bloodstream). Approximately 95% of pancreatic cancers originate in the exocrine cells.
 
Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
 
Screening for pancreatic cancer is not currently recommended for the general population, but high risk groups — like those hereditary conditions that elevate cancer risk — should discuss early detection options with their doctors.
 
Pancreatic cancer rarely displays symptoms in its early stages, but they can include:
 
  • Jaundice (yellowing in the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen
  • Light-colored or greasy stools
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite or feeling very full after a small meal
  • Fatigue
 
While many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, early pancreatic cancer detection is critical to successful treatment. If you or a loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor for further evaluation.
 
Risk Factors of Pancreatic Cancer
 
Risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer include:
 
  • Age: Approximately two-thirds of pancreatic cancer diagnoses are among people 65 or older
  • Diseases and Conditions:
    • Chronic pancreatitis: A disease characterized by long-term inflammation of the pancreas, this condition is linked to a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
    • Cirrhosis: A chronic and progressive disease in which liver cells are replaced with scar tissue, people with cirrhosis have a higher risk of getting pancreatic cancer
    • Diabetes: Diabetics are more likely to get pancreatic cancer, particularly if they have another risk factor such as chronic pancreatitis or cirrhosis; conversely, pancreatic cancer can lead to diabetes if it affects the insulin-producing cells of that organ
    • Genetic Conditions: Inherited gene mutations that are passed from parents to children may account for as many as 10 percent of pancreatic cancer cases. These include BRCA2 gene mutations, familial melanoma, familial pancreatitis, hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC/Lynch syndrome), Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
    • Helicobacter pylori infection: H. pylori is a bacteria that is associated with stomach ulcers, but infection with this pathogen can also elevate pancreatic cancer risk as well
  • Ethnicity: In the United States, African Americans have an elevated risk of developing pancreatic cancer
  • Family History: In addition to genetic conditions that can elevate pancreatic cancer risk, a family history of pancreatic cancer can also raise an individual’s likelihood of developing this disease
  • Gender: Men are 30% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women
  • Obesity: Obese people are 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer
  • Tobacco Use: Compared to non-smokers, smokers are twice as likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Use of smokeless tobacco products (such as chewing tobacco) increases pancreatic risk as well.
 
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer, please consult with a doctor on preventive and early detection measures that are available.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.
 
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute

How We Diagnose and Stage Pancreatic Cancer

Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer
 
A timely and accurate detection of pancreatic cancer is essential to planning the best course of treatment. In addition to a routine physical examination and blood tests, City of Hope doctors may also use the following tests to diagnose pancreatic cancer:
 
  • 3D computed tomography (CT) scan: Using advanced imaging technology and specialized techniques, radiologists at City of Hope can obtain highly clear and precise images of the pancreas. This allows the care team to better detect and locate tumors with minimal impact on surrounding normal tissues.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancratography (ERCP): A technique that uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached (endoscope). The tube is inserted orally, through the stomach and into the bile duct, allowing a physician to look for abnormalities and inject dyes so that the pancreas is better visualized with X-rays.
  • Endoscopy / Laparoscopy: A thin, lit tube is inserted either orally or through a small incision in the abdomen to check for signs for pancreatic cancer. In addition to identifying tumors, the procedure can also extract suspicious tissue for further evaluation.
  • Biopsy: Abnormal-looking cells are extracted from the pancreas and checked by a pathologist for cancerous signs.
  • Genetic testing: A genetic test of the cells extracted during biopsy can show whether the cancer is sensitive or resistant to specific treatments, so your care team can plan the most effective regimen against the disease.
 
Other tests that may be used for diagnosis or further evaluation include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound scans.
 
Staging Pancreatic Cancer
 
To properly plan for treatment, pancreatic cancer patients are staged in accordance to how advanced the disease is. This is primarily done by taking a number of factors into consideration, including:
 
  • Size of the tumor
  • If the tumor has grown into a blood vessel or adjacent organs, such as the stomach or liver
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and how many lymph nodes are affected
  • Whether the cancer has metastasized to distant organs
  • If the cancer can be completely removed by surgery
 
Based on these factors, patients are staged according to their risk level, with higher risk patients typically requiring more intensive treatments.
 
More information on pancreatic cancer staging criteria is available on the National Cancer Institute’s website.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Our Treatment Approach to Pancreatic Cancer

Since it is usually diagnosed at a later and more advanced stage, pancreatic cancer can be a difficult disease to treat. Thus, therapy needs to be rapid and aggressive — requiring the expertise of experienced specialists — to ensure optimal results and best chance at a cure.

City of Hope has one of the most renowned pancreatic cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team of medical experts across different fields including surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and supportive care medicine. Together, they work collaboratively to plan and implement a treatment regimen that is individually tailored to the patient to enhance outcomes and quality of life.

Surgery

Surgery can be curative for early stage pancreatic cancer patients and can also improve survival outcomes and reduce discomfort for advanced pancreatic cancer patients.
 
To treat pancreatic cancer, the surgeon may perform:
 
  • Whipple procedure: removing the head of the pancreas along with nearby structures such as the bile duct, gallbladder and part of the stomach and small intestine.
  • Total pancreatectomy: removing the entire pancreas along with bile duct, gallbladder, nearby lymph nodes and parts of the stomach and small intestine.
  • Distal pancreatectomy: removing the tail portion of the pancreas, sometimes with the spleen.
  • Ablative treatments: instead of removing the tumor, this therapy uses extreme heat or cold to destroy the tumor while it’s still in the body.
  • Embolization: this type of therapy aims to kill the tumor by cutting of the blood supply that feeds it.
 
Surgery may also be performed to alleviate symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer, such as a gastric or biliary bypass if the tumor is blocking the flow of food or bile, respectively.
 
The expertise of City of Hope’s surgeons also means that they can treat pancreatic cancers that are considered inoperable elsewhere. This is done through advanced procedures that can navigate around sensitive areas (such as major blood vessels) and working with radiation and medical oncologists, who may be able to shrink the tumor to down to an operable size and shape with radiation and drug therapies.
 
City of Hope’s surgeons specialize in  minimally invasive and robotically-assisted surgical procedures for pancreatic cancer. By using smaller incisions compared to an open procedure, patients experience less pain, recover faster, have shorter hospital stays and are less likely to have post-surgical complications.
 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies to treat pancreatic cancer by killing cancer cells or preventing the tumor growing larger. It can be applied externally using one or more radioactive beams focused on the tumor or internally by placing small radioactive pellets into or next to the tumor (brachytherapy).
 
Radiation therapy can also improve quality of life by relieving pain and stopping bleeds.
 
In addition to standard radiation regimens, City of Hope also offers Helical TomoTherapy , an advance technology combining radiation delivery with advanced imaging that results in more focused beams of radiation focused on the tumor while minimizing exposure to adjacent tissues and organs, including the heart, lungs and spine.
 

Drug Therapy

City of Hope uses a wide range of chemotherapy and targeted therapy drugs to treat localized and metastatic pancreatic cancer. In addition to standard drug regimens, patients have access to newly developed drugs (or drug combinations) through our clinical trials program.
 
Cancer fighting drugs can also enhance the effectiveness of surgery or radiation therapy, by shrinking the tumor before the procedure and making it easier to remove (neoadjuvant therapy), or given after the procedure to minimize the chance of recurrence (adjuvant therapy.)
 
Chemotherapy may also be given alongside radiation therapy to enhance the cancer-fighting effectiveness of both (chemoradiation.)
 
As part of the treatment team, a medical oncologist will evaluate the patient’s cancer, health and other factors, so that the chemotherapy, if appropriate, can be tailored to the patient throughout the continuum of care.
 

Become a Patient

If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Pancreatic Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

There is extensive collaboration between City of Hope clinicians and researchers to develop and evaluate new pancreatic cancer therapies designed to improve survival and quality of life outcomes. City of Hope patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials ranging from new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, novel surgical techniques and new radiation approaches — all focused on enhancing  treatment, detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer.
 
Some of our current research projects:
 
  • City of Hope is part of a trial to test an investigational drug called PEGPH20, which can dismantle pancreatic cancer cells’ defense against chemotherapy. The drug does so by reducing levels of hyaluronan, a substance that can create a barrier around tumors and reduce effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs. In this study, patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer will receive standard chemotherapy with or without PEGPH20 to see if adding this drug will improve outcomes.
  • Despite advances in treatments, pancreatic cancer has a high likelihood of recurrence. Joseph Kim, M.D., is currently conducting a trial comparing the blood samples of healthy adults and pancreatic cancer patients to see if there are any DNA abnormalities that can be detected, with the hope of designing a highly sensitive DNA test that can catch cancer recurrence and spread at its earliest stages. Ultimately, this will improve treatment planning and evaluation, and it can enable the care team to intervene faster.
  • Pancreatic cancer and its treatments can be a source of burden for the patient that significantly affects his or her well-being. City of Hope is currently designing a palliative/supportive care program to see if timely interventions (i.e. inquiring patients about physical/emotional/social issues throughout their treatment and then connecting them with appropriate resources) can reduce worry and improve their quality of life, improving the overall care experience.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Living with Pancreatic Cancer

While our primary goal is to cure or control the disease, another top priority is relieving suffering and discomfort for pancreatic cancer patients undergoing cancer treatments.
 
In addition to curative treatments, City of Hope pancreatic cancer patients and their caregivers have access to the broad range of services offered by our Department of Supportive Care Medicine. The department’s staff of professionals, including registered dieticians, rehabilitation specialists, supportive medicine physicians and clinical social workers, can help patients and loved ones with a variety of care and wellness issues including:
 

 
The  Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center is the heart of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, integrating City of Hope's support services under one umbrella. The Biller Resource Center provides a warm and welcoming space where patients, families and caregivers can access the resources, education and support they need to strengthen and empower themselves, before, during and after treatment. For more information or to contact the Biller Resource Center staff, please call 626-256-4673, ext. 32273 (3CARE).
 
 
This site includes tips, tools and online resources to help cancer patients and their families with issues that arise during cancer treatment.
 
Additional Resources
 
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Support this program

It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts 100 years ago. Their efforts − and those of our supporters today − have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables us to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies − helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact us below.

Joe Komsky
Senior Development Officer
Phone: 626-218-6291
Email: jkomsky@coh.org

 
 

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most challenging diseases to treat since it rarely shows symptoms in its early stages. However, aggressive therapies and specialized care can significantly improve outcomes and increase likelihood of a cure.
 
City of Hope has one of the most experienced pancreatic cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team that takes an integrated approach to fighting cancers of the pancreas. This includes using advanced technologies and specialized techniques such as:
 
  • advanced tumor imaging using 3D computed tomography (CT) scans that can improve treatment planning by accurately locating pancreatic cancer
  • minimally-invasive, robotically-assisted techniques for complex surgeries — such as the Whipple procedure — that can remove tumors with less discomfort, reduced risk of complications and shorter recovery times
  • highly precise radiation therapy that can target hard-to-resect tumors with minimal exposure to surrounding normal tissue
  • combination regimens integrating surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy for maximum cancer-fighting effectiveness
 
Additionally, City of Hope patients have access to our extensive team of supportive care experts — including dieticians, supportive medicine physicians and rehabilitation specialists. Working closely with the patient’s primary care team, they can detect and address quality of life issues related to pancreatic cancer and its treatments. This includes managing symptoms (such as pain, nausea and fatigue), adjusting to a new diet and lifestyle post-treatment and being aware of possible long-term effects.
 
 
As one of a handful of institutes to attain the elite designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is acknowledged as a leader in pancreatic cancer research and treatment. With our decades of experience, specialized therapy protocols and extensive program of clinical trials, newly diagnosed or relapsed patients can find a treatment regimen that is tailored to their needs and gives them the best chance for survival. U.S. News & World Report also named City of Hope as one of the top cancer hospitals in the country.
 
 
In collaboration with other departments and cancer centers, City of Hope’s pancreatic cancer program has an active portfolio of clinical trials studying novel treatments, including trials of new surgery, radiation and drug therapy regimens that are more effective against the disease and/or less harmful to the patient. Many of these promising therapies are only available to patients being treated at the City of Hope.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.
 

Pancreatic Cancer Team

Pancreatic Cancer Team

About Pancreatic Cancer

About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the pancreas, an organ in the upper abdomen that aids in digestion and secretes various hormones to regulate body functions (such as insulin to control blood-sugar levels.)
 
Pancreatic cancers are classified based on the type of cells affected: exocrine (which produce the digestive juices that go into the small intestine) or endocrine (which produce several hormones that go directly into the bloodstream). Approximately 95% of pancreatic cancers originate in the exocrine cells.
 
Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
 
Screening for pancreatic cancer is not currently recommended for the general population, but high risk groups — like those hereditary conditions that elevate cancer risk — should discuss early detection options with their doctors.
 
Pancreatic cancer rarely displays symptoms in its early stages, but they can include:
 
  • Jaundice (yellowing in the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen
  • Light-colored or greasy stools
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite or feeling very full after a small meal
  • Fatigue
 
While many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, early pancreatic cancer detection is critical to successful treatment. If you or a loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor for further evaluation.
 
Risk Factors of Pancreatic Cancer
 
Risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer include:
 
  • Age: Approximately two-thirds of pancreatic cancer diagnoses are among people 65 or older
  • Diseases and Conditions:
    • Chronic pancreatitis: A disease characterized by long-term inflammation of the pancreas, this condition is linked to a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
    • Cirrhosis: A chronic and progressive disease in which liver cells are replaced with scar tissue, people with cirrhosis have a higher risk of getting pancreatic cancer
    • Diabetes: Diabetics are more likely to get pancreatic cancer, particularly if they have another risk factor such as chronic pancreatitis or cirrhosis; conversely, pancreatic cancer can lead to diabetes if it affects the insulin-producing cells of that organ
    • Genetic Conditions: Inherited gene mutations that are passed from parents to children may account for as many as 10 percent of pancreatic cancer cases. These include BRCA2 gene mutations, familial melanoma, familial pancreatitis, hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC/Lynch syndrome), Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
    • Helicobacter pylori infection: H. pylori is a bacteria that is associated with stomach ulcers, but infection with this pathogen can also elevate pancreatic cancer risk as well
  • Ethnicity: In the United States, African Americans have an elevated risk of developing pancreatic cancer
  • Family History: In addition to genetic conditions that can elevate pancreatic cancer risk, a family history of pancreatic cancer can also raise an individual’s likelihood of developing this disease
  • Gender: Men are 30% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women
  • Obesity: Obese people are 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer
  • Tobacco Use: Compared to non-smokers, smokers are twice as likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Use of smokeless tobacco products (such as chewing tobacco) increases pancreatic risk as well.
 
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer, please consult with a doctor on preventive and early detection measures that are available.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.
 
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute

Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer

How We Diagnose and Stage Pancreatic Cancer

Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer
 
A timely and accurate detection of pancreatic cancer is essential to planning the best course of treatment. In addition to a routine physical examination and blood tests, City of Hope doctors may also use the following tests to diagnose pancreatic cancer:
 
  • 3D computed tomography (CT) scan: Using advanced imaging technology and specialized techniques, radiologists at City of Hope can obtain highly clear and precise images of the pancreas. This allows the care team to better detect and locate tumors with minimal impact on surrounding normal tissues.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancratography (ERCP): A technique that uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached (endoscope). The tube is inserted orally, through the stomach and into the bile duct, allowing a physician to look for abnormalities and inject dyes so that the pancreas is better visualized with X-rays.
  • Endoscopy / Laparoscopy: A thin, lit tube is inserted either orally or through a small incision in the abdomen to check for signs for pancreatic cancer. In addition to identifying tumors, the procedure can also extract suspicious tissue for further evaluation.
  • Biopsy: Abnormal-looking cells are extracted from the pancreas and checked by a pathologist for cancerous signs.
  • Genetic testing: A genetic test of the cells extracted during biopsy can show whether the cancer is sensitive or resistant to specific treatments, so your care team can plan the most effective regimen against the disease.
 
Other tests that may be used for diagnosis or further evaluation include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound scans.
 
Staging Pancreatic Cancer
 
To properly plan for treatment, pancreatic cancer patients are staged in accordance to how advanced the disease is. This is primarily done by taking a number of factors into consideration, including:
 
  • Size of the tumor
  • If the tumor has grown into a blood vessel or adjacent organs, such as the stomach or liver
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and how many lymph nodes are affected
  • Whether the cancer has metastasized to distant organs
  • If the cancer can be completely removed by surgery
 
Based on these factors, patients are staged according to their risk level, with higher risk patients typically requiring more intensive treatments.
 
More information on pancreatic cancer staging criteria is available on the National Cancer Institute’s website.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Options

Our Treatment Approach to Pancreatic Cancer

Since it is usually diagnosed at a later and more advanced stage, pancreatic cancer can be a difficult disease to treat. Thus, therapy needs to be rapid and aggressive — requiring the expertise of experienced specialists — to ensure optimal results and best chance at a cure.

City of Hope has one of the most renowned pancreatic cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team of medical experts across different fields including surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and supportive care medicine. Together, they work collaboratively to plan and implement a treatment regimen that is individually tailored to the patient to enhance outcomes and quality of life.

Surgery

Surgery can be curative for early stage pancreatic cancer patients and can also improve survival outcomes and reduce discomfort for advanced pancreatic cancer patients.
 
To treat pancreatic cancer, the surgeon may perform:
 
  • Whipple procedure: removing the head of the pancreas along with nearby structures such as the bile duct, gallbladder and part of the stomach and small intestine.
  • Total pancreatectomy: removing the entire pancreas along with bile duct, gallbladder, nearby lymph nodes and parts of the stomach and small intestine.
  • Distal pancreatectomy: removing the tail portion of the pancreas, sometimes with the spleen.
  • Ablative treatments: instead of removing the tumor, this therapy uses extreme heat or cold to destroy the tumor while it’s still in the body.
  • Embolization: this type of therapy aims to kill the tumor by cutting of the blood supply that feeds it.
 
Surgery may also be performed to alleviate symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer, such as a gastric or biliary bypass if the tumor is blocking the flow of food or bile, respectively.
 
The expertise of City of Hope’s surgeons also means that they can treat pancreatic cancers that are considered inoperable elsewhere. This is done through advanced procedures that can navigate around sensitive areas (such as major blood vessels) and working with radiation and medical oncologists, who may be able to shrink the tumor to down to an operable size and shape with radiation and drug therapies.
 
City of Hope’s surgeons specialize in  minimally invasive and robotically-assisted surgical procedures for pancreatic cancer. By using smaller incisions compared to an open procedure, patients experience less pain, recover faster, have shorter hospital stays and are less likely to have post-surgical complications.
 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies to treat pancreatic cancer by killing cancer cells or preventing the tumor growing larger. It can be applied externally using one or more radioactive beams focused on the tumor or internally by placing small radioactive pellets into or next to the tumor (brachytherapy).
 
Radiation therapy can also improve quality of life by relieving pain and stopping bleeds.
 
In addition to standard radiation regimens, City of Hope also offers Helical TomoTherapy , an advance technology combining radiation delivery with advanced imaging that results in more focused beams of radiation focused on the tumor while minimizing exposure to adjacent tissues and organs, including the heart, lungs and spine.
 

Drug Therapy

City of Hope uses a wide range of chemotherapy and targeted therapy drugs to treat localized and metastatic pancreatic cancer. In addition to standard drug regimens, patients have access to newly developed drugs (or drug combinations) through our clinical trials program.
 
Cancer fighting drugs can also enhance the effectiveness of surgery or radiation therapy, by shrinking the tumor before the procedure and making it easier to remove (neoadjuvant therapy), or given after the procedure to minimize the chance of recurrence (adjuvant therapy.)
 
Chemotherapy may also be given alongside radiation therapy to enhance the cancer-fighting effectiveness of both (chemoradiation.)
 
As part of the treatment team, a medical oncologist will evaluate the patient’s cancer, health and other factors, so that the chemotherapy, if appropriate, can be tailored to the patient throughout the continuum of care.
 

Become a Patient

If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Pancreatic Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

Pancreatic Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

There is extensive collaboration between City of Hope clinicians and researchers to develop and evaluate new pancreatic cancer therapies designed to improve survival and quality of life outcomes. City of Hope patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials ranging from new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, novel surgical techniques and new radiation approaches — all focused on enhancing  treatment, detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer.
 
Some of our current research projects:
 
  • City of Hope is part of a trial to test an investigational drug called PEGPH20, which can dismantle pancreatic cancer cells’ defense against chemotherapy. The drug does so by reducing levels of hyaluronan, a substance that can create a barrier around tumors and reduce effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs. In this study, patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer will receive standard chemotherapy with or without PEGPH20 to see if adding this drug will improve outcomes.
  • Despite advances in treatments, pancreatic cancer has a high likelihood of recurrence. Joseph Kim, M.D., is currently conducting a trial comparing the blood samples of healthy adults and pancreatic cancer patients to see if there are any DNA abnormalities that can be detected, with the hope of designing a highly sensitive DNA test that can catch cancer recurrence and spread at its earliest stages. Ultimately, this will improve treatment planning and evaluation, and it can enable the care team to intervene faster.
  • Pancreatic cancer and its treatments can be a source of burden for the patient that significantly affects his or her well-being. City of Hope is currently designing a palliative/supportive care program to see if timely interventions (i.e. inquiring patients about physical/emotional/social issues throughout their treatment and then connecting them with appropriate resources) can reduce worry and improve their quality of life, improving the overall care experience.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Living with Pancreatic Cancer

Living with Pancreatic Cancer

While our primary goal is to cure or control the disease, another top priority is relieving suffering and discomfort for pancreatic cancer patients undergoing cancer treatments.
 
In addition to curative treatments, City of Hope pancreatic cancer patients and their caregivers have access to the broad range of services offered by our Department of Supportive Care Medicine. The department’s staff of professionals, including registered dieticians, rehabilitation specialists, supportive medicine physicians and clinical social workers, can help patients and loved ones with a variety of care and wellness issues including:
 

 
The  Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center is the heart of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, integrating City of Hope's support services under one umbrella. The Biller Resource Center provides a warm and welcoming space where patients, families and caregivers can access the resources, education and support they need to strengthen and empower themselves, before, during and after treatment. For more information or to contact the Biller Resource Center staff, please call 626-256-4673, ext. 32273 (3CARE).
 
 
This site includes tips, tools and online resources to help cancer patients and their families with issues that arise during cancer treatment.
 
Additional Resources
 
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Support This Program

Support this program

It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts 100 years ago. Their efforts − and those of our supporters today − have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables us to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies − helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact us below.

Joe Komsky
Senior Development Officer
Phone: 626-218-6291
Email: jkomsky@coh.org

 
 
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  • The spinal cord is an integral part of the human body, connecting the brain to everything else. So when a tumor grows on the spine, any messages that the brain tries to send to the rest of the body are interrupted, making everyday tasks — such as walking — more difficult. This year an estimated 22,850 […]
  • Each year, thousands of patients with hematologic malignancies undergo allogeneic stem cell transplantation (that is, they receive a donor’s stem cells), offering them a chance at cure. Graft-versus-host disease is a potentially deadly complication of this therapy and occurs in approximately 25 to 60 perc...
  • Bertram Yuh, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology at City of Hope, offers his perspective on the benefits of surgery for aggressive prostate cancer. For men walking out of the doctor’s office after a diagnosis of cancer, the reality can hit like a ton of bricks. Th...
  • Although many Hispanic women face a high risk of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes – increasing their risk of breast and ovarian cancer – screenings for these mutations can be prohibitively expensive in Mexico and other Latin American countries. As a result, too many women don’t get the information t...
  • Providing lung cancer treatments to patients when their cancer is at its earliest and most treatable stages will now be a more attainable goal: Medicare has agreed to cover lung cancer screening for those beneficiaries who meet the requirements. The only proven way to detect lung cancer early enough to save liv...
  • At City of Hope, innovative scientific research, important clinical studies and vital construction projects are all powered by philanthropy. Generous supporters fuel a powerful and diverse range of progress in science and medicine, enabling researchers and clinicians to improve cancer treatments and create cure...
  • Trevor Hoffman was only 21 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, but not even cancer could keep him off his motorcycles. (He has one for racing, and a couple just for fun.) Now a cancer survivor, Hoffman, who lives in La Verne, California, wrapped up his treatment Jan. 19 – just one day […]
  • Valentine’s Day is synonymous with dinner reservations, red roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and — more often than not — unrealistically high expectations. Managing those expectations is great advice for all couples on Feb. 14 — and is especially important for couples confronting a cancer diagnosis. Focu...
  • With measles, what starts at a theme park in California definitely doesn’t stay at a theme park in California. Since the beginning of the current measles outbreak – traced to an initial exposure at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure during December – more than 100 people have been diagnosed with a diseas...
  • Even the most loving and secure relationship can be rattled by a life-threatening illness. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, research shows one of the most important factors in helping her cope is having a supportive partner. But that partner can struggle with knowing what to say or how to best supp...
  • It’s been more than a century since Nobel Laureate Paul Ehrlich popularized the idea of a “magic bullet” targeting disease. Cancer researchers ever since have remained in hot pursuit of targeted therapies that home in on cancer cells while leaving normal cells unaffected. Linda Malkas, Ph.D., associate chair of...
  • Cancer patients face a daunting journey marked by challenges and uncertainties. For those undergoing bone marrow, or stem cell, transplantation, one complication poses a particular threat — chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Now, one researcher may have found a better way to control that threat. GVHD res...