Pancreatic Cancer FAQs

Cancer Doctors in Payson & Phoenix, AZ

 

At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we’re proud to bring hope in the fight against cancer to countless patients in Payson, Glendale, Scottsdale, and the greater Phoenix, AZ area. Our six state-of-the-art cancer centers offer a variety of industry-leading radiation therapy treatments, PET imaging tests, and clinical trials, and we strive to provide comprehensive support to patients battling cancer. If you’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we know you probably feel overwhelmed – but we’re here to help, and the first step to recovery is learning more about your
condition.

 

Common Questions About Pancreatic Cancer

 

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer refers to any cancerous growth that originates in the pancreas, an oblong, 6″ organ that plays a role in digestion and in hormone production. The two main types of pancreatic cancer are exocrine and neuroendocrine tumors, differentiated by the type of cells the cancer forms out of. While exocrine tumors are cancerous, neuroendocrine tumors may be either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors do not grow and spread in the same, aggressive way that cancerous tumors do.

What symptoms does pancreatic cancer cause?

Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer often does not produce symptoms until an advanced stage, which makes it difficult to detect and treat. When it does cause symptoms, some of the most common include:

  • Pain in the upper back or abdomen
  • General fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Certain rare forms of pancreatic cancer can form in the cells of the pancreas that produce hormones. In some cases, these tumors will produce excessive amounts of these hormones, which can cause a wide range of bizarre symptoms.

How do doctors diagnose pancreatic cancer?

If a doctor suspects pancreatic cancer, they may order a wide variety of tests to provide a positive diagnosis. These tests include:

  • Lab Tests​: Analysis of a sample in a lab for certain markers of pancreatic cancer
  • CT Scan​: An x-ray machine takes a series of detailed images of the pancreas to look for a tumor
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound device takes images of the pancreas to look for abnormalities
  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)​: Using a small tube called an endoscope, which is passed through the GI tract to the small intestine, your doctor will slip a tiny catheter into the pancreatic bile ducts and inject a dye. Then, x-rays will be used to examine the dye and look for blockages in the pancreatic ducts caused by tumors.
  • Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography (PTC)​: Your doctor will use a needle to inject dye into the bile ducts, then take x-rays to look for blockages.
  • Biopsy​: If a suspected tumor is located, your doctor may take a tissue sample for analysis in a lab.

How is pancreatic cancer treated?

Treatment options for pancreatic cancer vary from patient to patient, and they’ll depend on the specific type of pancreatic cancer as well as the medical situation of the patient. The most common treatments for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy (such as CyberKnife)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Immunotherapy

Often, your doctor will recommend a combination of these treatments.

 

Contact Your Phoenix, AZ Cancer Treatment Centers

 

Fighting pancreatic cancer is hard – but with the right treatment team on your side, you have the best possible chance at recovery. At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we’re proud to help patients fighting almost any form of cancer overcome their condition and reclaim a healthy, normal lifestyle through expert radiation therapy treatment. If you’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, contact us today. We’ll help you start the road to recovery and take back your life.

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