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Cancer Services



Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer Services at Methodist Dallas Medical Center

When it comes to a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, patients, families, and doctors fight the battle together. At Methodist Dallas, independently practicing physicians -- including surgeons, oncologists, gastroenterologists and pathologists – work together with patient navigators, patients, and families to provide care for managing and treating pancreatic cancer in Dallas, North Texas, and beyond.

According to the American Cancer Society, about  46,400 men and women in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2014.

Pancreatic cancer – an overview and symptoms

What is the pancreas? Learn more about pancreatic cancer treatment at Methodist Dallas Medical Center including the Whipple procedure and distal pancreatectomy and splenectomy

When it comes to anatomy, the pancreas is not one of those organs that take center stage. However, the small pear-shaped, spongy organ, which resides next to the stomach and intestine, does its fair share of pumping hormones and enzymes that help us digest food.

What does the pancreas do? 

The pancreas has two jobs:

  1. The pancreas makes enzymes that are sent into your intestines to help break down fats and other food. 
  2. The pancreas produces insulin, which controls the level of sugar in the blood. Lack of insulin causes diabetes.

The pancreas is in contact with very important veins and arteries as well as other organs. All of these have to be considered when operating on the pancreas.

What is pancreatic cancer? 

Methodist Dallas Medical Center is the first hospital in the nation awarded certification by The Joint Commission for pancreatic surgery and the first in Texas awarded certification for pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is a result of abnormal cell growth that disrupts the endocrine system. The endocrine system is composed of glands that secrete hormones (chemicals that regulate other body parts) directly into the bloodstream. Rather than developing into healthy, normal pancreas tissue, these abnormal cells multiply and form lumps, called tumors. Tumor cells fight their way into other organs and interfere with operations of the pancreas.

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, more than 95% of pancreatic cancers are:

  • Adenocarcinoma, tumors of the lining of the pancreatic duct– or exocrine tumors – or which start in the cells that make pancreatic enzymes that help in digestion. 

5% of pancreatic tumors are 

  • Neuroendocrine tumors, also called endocrine or islet cell tumors

Other types of pancreatic cancer are:  

  • Cystadenocarcinoma – a rare pancreatic cancer
  • Acinar cell carcinoma – a rare pancreatic cancer

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Signs or symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include: 

  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin, caused by an increase in the level of bilirubin. About half of all people with pancreatic cancer, and those with ampullary cancer, may get jaundice. 
  • Abdominal or back pain may occur in advanced pancreatic cancer. Cancers that start in the body, or tail, of the pancreas squeeze and compress other nearby organs, causing pain. The cancer may also spread to the nerves surrounding the pancreas, leading to back pain. 
  • Unintended or unexpected weight loss 
  • Poor appetite 
  • Digestive problems 
  • Enlarged abdomen from swollen gallbladder 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Pale, greasy stools 
  • Diabetes (exocrine cancers of the pancreas may be linked to diabetes or high blood sugar, because they destroy the insulin-making cells.)

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may be similar to those of other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Are there risk factors for pancreatic cancer?

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer can include: 

  • Age 
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Chronic pancreatitis 
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Some genetic syndromes

Learn more about pancreatic cancer 

Visit these website for more information about pancreatic cancer: 

American Cancer Society  
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network   

Contact the Pancreatic Cancer Program at Methodist Dallas

Call 214-947-1766 to contact the Pancreatic Program at Methodist DallasFor more information about pancreatic cancer treatment options and pancreatic cancer resources at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, call 214-933-6601

Methodist Dallas Medical Center is the first hospital in the nation awarded certification by The Joint Commission for pancreatic surgery

Methodist Dallas Medical Center is the first hospital in Texas awarded certification by The Joint Commission for pancreatic cancer

Methodist Dallas Cancer Program  Recognized by College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer
The cancer program at Methodist Dallas was one of three in Texas to earn the 2013
Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer
.  

Information contained on these pages has been gathered from independent sources and is for informational use only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice and information provided by your health care provider. Any decision you make regarding your health care options should be made after consulting a qualified physician.

Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System.

Sources:
American Cancer Society 
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network  
Staywell Health Library  

Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System.

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P.O. Box 655999 Dallas, Texas 75265-5999  |  1-877-637-4297