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NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center - Center for Advanced Digestive Care

Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach that secretes juices to help digest food, as well as produce hormones (such as insulin and glucagon) to regulate blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer is one of the more common cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.

What symptoms are associated with this condition?

When located in the tail or body of the pancreas, symptoms may include pain. When located in the pancreatic head, patients may experience jaundice, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, itchy skin, and abdominal pain.

How is it diagnosed?

The following diagnostic tests may be performed by our Advanced Endoscopy Team to diagnose pancreatic cancer:

  • Imaging tests such as CT imaging and magnetic resonance Imaging
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) for sampling
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) with fine needle aspiration (FNA)
  • Probe-based confocal endomicroscopy (use of a live laser to diagnosis in vivo cancerous lesions)
  • Pancreatoscopy (use of a small camera to visualize the pancreatic duct)

For more about these procedures, visit the Advanced Interventional Endoscopy page.

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Confocal endomicroscopy is one method of diagnosing pancreatic cancer.

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3D image of pancreatic cancer that has spread to nearby blood vessels.

How is it treated?

Radiofrequency ablation is used to treat some pancreatic cancers

Interventional endoscopic techniques used to treat pancreatic cancer and its symptoms include:

  • ERCP with biliary stent placement
  • Radiofrequency ablation of the tumor
  • Celiac plexus neurolysis to relieve pain
  • Duodenal stent to relieve obstruction
  • EUS-guided ERCP for complex biliary drainage as an alternative to percutaneous drainage

For more about these procedures, visit the Advanced Interventional Endoscopy page.

Patients may undergo the Whipple procedure (removal of the head of the pancreas, part of the small intestine, the gall bladder, part of the stomach, and lymph nodes near the head of the pancreas). Our surgeons perform a large volume of procedures using this complex approach. Patients may also receive chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy; we take a multidisciplinary approach, offering all the tools necessary to personalize care for each patient.

How can I make an appointment to see an advanced endoscopist?

Our specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating pancreatic cancer. An interdisciplinary team of gastrointestinal specialists in endoscopy, radiology, and surgery work together as a team to provide each patient with coordinated, advanced, and individualized care. Please contact our Advanced Interventional Endoscopy team to discuss your case.