Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas, located behind the lower part of the stomach, produces enzymes that break down food and hormones that help control blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer usually begins in the cells that produce the enzymes.

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer symptoms generally do not occur right away. If they do, they are often subtle and overlooked. Eventually you may notice:

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Pain in the abdomen and back
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Keep in mind, many diseases and conditions other than cancer may cause similar signs and symptoms.

How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect early, because the pancreas is located deep inside the body. This means early tumors cannot be seen or felt during routine physical exams. Other tests are required to confirm the diagnosis:

  • CT scans or CT-guided biopsies
  • MRIs
  • EUS
  • ERCP

How is pancreatic cancer treated?

Treatment will vary depending upon the stage of the cancer. Cancer growing in the head of the pancreas can block the common bile duct as it passes through this part of the pancreas. This can cause pain and digestive problems, as bile cannot get into the intestine. The bile chemicals build up in the body causing jaundice, nausea, vomiting, and other problems. To unblock the bile duct, your doctor may implant a stent. This keeps the duct open and is inserted using an endoscope (a long, flexible tube). Often this is part of an ERCP.

If you have concerns about pancreatic cancer, request an appointment at San Bernardino Gastroenterology Associates.