Dallas County Pancreatic Cancer Care

World-Class Services for Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

When it comes to a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, patients, families, and doctors fight the battle together. At Methodist Charlton Medical Center, 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 County.

What is 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.

Signs or symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:

  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin; jaundice occurs in about half of all people with pancreatic cancer
  • Abdominal and/or 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.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Unlike heart disease, where doctors can pinpoint a clot or look for high levels of cholesterol, there are no similar types of diagnostic tools for pancreatic cancer detection. This is why it is so important to have an experienced team of medical professionals on your side. Results of diagnostic tests can help guide pancreatic cancer treatment.

  • CT scan (computed tomography) – These x-rays can be useful in finding pancreatic tumors. CT scans can also show the organs near the pancreas and whether cancer has spread. A CT scan may determine if surgery is a good treatment option.
  • ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) – A thin, flexible tube is passed down the throat, into the small intestine, where the doctor can see through the end of the tube. A small amount of contrast dye is then pushed through the tube into the ducts. The dye colors outlines of the ducts on x-rays to reveal blocked ducts that could signal cancer of the pancreas.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) – MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets to image the tumor and may be helpful in looking at the pancreas and surrounding organs.
  • PET scan (positron emission tomography) – PET scans use a radioactive glucose to image cells. Cancer cells are very active and they take in large amounts of the sugar. This whole body scan is useful to see if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or to other places.
  • PET/CT scan – This test combines the 2 types of scans to even better pinpoint the tumor spread beyond the pancreas. It may also be useful for staging the cancer and finding it sooner.
  • Somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (SRS) – also known as OctreoScan, SRS can be helpful in diagnosing pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.
  • Ultrasound – This test can help tell what kind of tumor is in the pancreas. An endoscopic ultrasound gives a picture, which may be more helpful than a CT scans for spotting small tumors.
  • Blood tests - While there is currently no specific test that finds pancreatic cancer, blood tests can show whether jaundice is due to a blockage in the bile duct or to another cause, such as liver disease. If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, your doctor may give you a special blood test, called CA 19-9 to track the activity of pancreatic cancer cells.
  • Biopsy – surgical removal of tissue from the pancreas to determine whether pancreatic cancer is present.

Patients will be given a health history and physical exam to help diagnose pancreatic cancer. The exam will focus mostly on the abdominal area of the liver, which may be enlarged. The skin and the white part of the eyes will be checked for jaundice. Your symptoms, medical history, and family history of cancer may be reviewed.

Why Choose Methodist

At Methodist Charlton Medical Center, we take a holistic (whole body) approach to pancreatic cancer care. This means that were are focused on helping patients with their physical, mental, and emotional needs by treating the symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatment while working on finishing off the cancer once and for all.

The multidisciplinary approach to care for pancreatic cancer begins with the coordinated efforts of a highly trained, independently practicing medical staff who have years of experience in treating complex pancreatic cancer cases – surgeons, pathologists, gastroenterologists, oncologists – who meet with a palliative care nurse and a clinical coordinator/nurse navigator to discuss your treatment options. Throughout your care, the nurse navigator will meet with you and your family to discuss your case and treatment options and to guide you through the information and decisions that need to be made regarding treatment.

From diagnosis and testing to pancreatic cancer treatment – whether surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination – to post-treatment counseling and support, including diet and lifestyle recommendations, the integrated care team at Methodist works together.

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, or any of its affiliated hospitals.