If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, or if you've been told you're at high risk for developing the disease, talk to us. It's important to learn about your options and take action right away.
City of Hope has one of the most experienced pancreatic cancer programs in the United States. We are designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute, and for more than a decade, U.S. News & World Report has named City of Hope one of the top cancer hospitals in America. Additionally, numerous City of Hope physicians are named "Top Doctors for Cancer" by Newsweek.
Our world-class team of specialists can answer your questions, address your concerns, and deliver a personalized treatment plan with the most innovative, leading-edge therapies available anywhere.
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, you may request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-4673 (HOPE). Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.
City of Hope has one of the most experienced pancreatic cancer programs in the United States. We are designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute, and for more than a decade, U.S. News & World Report has named City of Hope one of the top cancer hospitals in America.
December 24, 2014
December 28, 2013
Your pancreas is small, only about six inches long, but it plays an important role in your digestive system.
Located deep within the abdomen, the pancreas produces insulin to help regulate your blood sugar level and aids in breaking down the foods you eat.
Pancreatic cancer develops when cells in the pancreas begin to grow uncontrollably. There are two types of pancreatic cancer tumors, exocrine and endocrine. Exocrine tumors are more common, while endocrine tumors are rare and make up less than 5 percent of all pancreatic cancer.
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease. This could be a behavior, a health condition, a hereditary trait — anything that affects your chances of developing an illness.
Pancreatic cancer has several risk factors associated with it — some of which you change and others you cannot.
Risk factors you have control over include:
Smoking: According to the American Cancer Society, 20 to 30 percent of pancreatic cancer cases are thought to be brought on by smoking.
Obesity: Being overweight or obese boosts your chances of developing pancreatic cancer.
Risk factors you cannot control are:
Age: The older you get, the more likely you are to receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Nearly all cases occur in people over 45 years of age.
Race and gender: African-Americans and men have a somewhat higher chance of getting pancreatic cancer.
Inherited genetic syndromes: It is possible that pancreatic cancer runs in some families. Genetic syndromes like Lynch, Peutz-Jeghers and Von Hippel-Lindau can all cause pancreatic cancer. Abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes passed down from parent to child also increases your likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer.
If you are high risk due to hereditary factors, there may be genetic testing options available to you. Talk to your doctor to assess your needs and evaluate the best course of action.
Certain illnesses: If you suffer from diabetes, chronic pancreatitis or cirrhosis of the liver, you may have a higher chance of getting pancreatic cancer.
You might not exhibit symptoms of pancreatic cancer until it has advanced, so it is important to know your body and be vigilant about any changes you experience that cause alarm.
Some symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer are:
Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
The pancreas is located deep within the body, making it difficult to detect early tumors during a routine physical exam. Additionally, there are no reliable screening options for pancreatic cancer, so it tends to be diagnosed at later stages when the cancer has grown and spread. At City of Hope, our knowledgeable and skilled team will work with you to ensure that your cancer is detected, diagnosed and staged using the latest methods.
In addition to physical exams and blood tests, doctors at City of Hope use a variety of diagnostic tools to check for pancreatic cancer:
In its early stages, pancreatic cancer can be treated effectively with surgery. For patients with advanced prostate cancer, surgery can still be useful for relieving pain, restoring function and improving survival rates.
At City of Hope, we have one of the most experienced pancreatic surgery teams in the U.S. Our surgeons have performed thousands of procedures, and we frequently treat patients whose tumors are considered inoperable at other facilities. We also work continuously to improve the effectiveness and reduce complications of pancreatic cancer surgery, and we are at the forefront of developing minimally-invasive procedures.
Ablation destroys tumor cells without surgically removing them. In these procedures, the doctor inserts a thin, needle-like probe into the tumor and uses extreme heat or cold to eradicate tumor cells:
Embolization shrinks tumors by blocking their supporting blood vessels. This can be done either with particles, chemotherapy drugs or radioactive beads injected into the artery feeding the tumors.
Chemotherapy drugs may be given before an operation to try and shrink the tumors — increasing chances of surgical success — or following surgery to kill stray cancer cells and prevent a recurrence. It is also used when tumors can't be removed surgically. Chemotherapy may also be given in combination with radiation therapy to enhance the cancer-fighting effectiveness of both.
For patients who are healthy enough, a combination of several chemotherapy drugs may be administered for maximum cancer-fighting effectiveness. However, patients who are too weak to tolerate combination treatments may be given a single drug. Chemotherapy is often administered in cycles, with a rest periods in between to allow the body to recover.
Targeted therapy drugs work differently than standard chemotherapy by targeting cancer-specific cells and processes. Some of these drugs are designed to stop changes in cells and cell DNA that cause cancer. Others block the signals that cancer cells use to fuel their growth and spread, or they may stimulate the body's immune system to destroy cancer cells from within (known as immunotherapy.)
At City of Hope, we constantly evaluate new chemotherapy and targeted therapy drugs for treating pancreatic cancer. Patients at City of Hope have access to newly-developed drugs and drug combinations through our clinical trials program.
Typical radiation treatment is applied externally using one or more beams focused on the tumor.
At City of Hope, we've refined our radiation treatments to precisely target tumors and preserve nearby tissue. Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) uses sophisticated computer software and 3-D images from CT scans. The newest advance in this area is Helical TomoTherapy, and City of Hope is a leader in its use.
Radiation may be given before surgery, often in combination with chemotherapy, to shrink tumors and help make the surgery more effective. When tumors cannot be removed surgically, radiation may be used to relieve pain and other symptoms.
City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers utilize the latest in technology and innovation to treat cancer, coupled with our enduring belief in providing unparalleled compassionate care.
At City of Hope, we offer access to drug, surgical and other clinical trials aimed at improving survival rates and enhancing quality of life.
We are investigating a drug called PEGPH20, which may disrupt pancreatic cancer cells' ability to fight off chemotherapy by creating a barrier around tumors.
We are comparing blood samples of healthy adults and pancreatic cancer patients to search for DNA abnormalities. The goal is to design a DNA test that detect a cancer recurrence or spread at its earliest stages.
City of Hope is working on an improved supportive care program aimed at improving quality of life and the overall care experience.
Browse through our clinical trials and research projects here.
When you come to City of Hope, you automatically gain access to an unparalleled array of support services to help you and your family cope with each challenge you come across in your pancreatic cancer journey.
We support you every step of the way, both during treatment and long after, helping you and your loved ones manage your recovery.
We can help with all of these concerns, and more:
Learn more about these resources at our Living with Cancer or Supportive Care Medicine sites. For more information about the supportive care programs we offer, please contact the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at 626-218-2273 (CARE).
Support the Pancreatic Cancer 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 more than 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.