Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States.

The pancreas is a small gland located in the abdomen between the stomach and the intestines. It is mainly composed of the exocrine cells that make digestive enzymes and the endocrine (islet) cells that make hormones such as insulin, which controls blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer occurs when a cell in the pancreas is damaged and starts to grow out of control.

The vast majority of pancreatic cancers start in exocrine cells found in the pancreas ducts or small channels that carry digestive enzymes to the intestines. These cancers are called adenocarcinomas that begin in the tissue lining the pancreas, although as many as 20 different types of tumors can be found in the pancreas. As a pancreatic tumor grows, it can invade nearby organs – such as the bile duct, intestine, or stomach – or adjacent blood vessels. Tumor cells can break away and spread to the lymph nodes or liver, or to other places in the abdomen.

At Providence Saint John’s Health Center our gastrointestinal cancer surgeons diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer with the most advanced therapies available. We provide focused, personalized care via a team that consists of surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, gastroenterologists, pathologists and specially trained support staff, all to help you to make the most informed decision about your care.

As a center for treatment of advanced cancer, we offer innovative treatments, including proton therapy, against pancreatic cancer.