Pancreatic Cancer

Radiation Therapy in Glendale, AZ

A cancer diagnosis can be one of life’s most challenging experiences, but with the right cancer treatment team, there’s always hope. At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we offer cutting-edge radiation therapy and other cancer treatments from a network of 6 state-of-the-art cancer clinics throughout greater Phoenix, AZ, and our treatment team works closely with patients to make treatment fit into your lifestyle. We treat a wide variety of cancerous conditions at our cancer centers, and if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we can help.

What Is Pancreatic Cancer?

The pancreas is a small, fish-shaped organ that sits behind the stomach, and it plays an important role in the digestive system. The pancreas creates and secretes a range of hormones and enzymes that help your body break down food and extract nutrients. Pancreatic cancer refers to any cancer that starts in the cells of the pancreas.

Pancreatic cancer affects more than 40,000 people every year in the US, which makes it one of the most common types of cancer. Unfortunately, it’s also very deadly: 5-year survival rates for Stage I pancreatic cancer are around 14%, while 5-year survival rates for Stage IV pancreatic cancer stand at just 1%. That said, even for people with the most severe form of pancreatic cancer, there’s hope – and high-quality radiation therapy, like the kind we provide at our Phoenix, AZ cancer treatment facilities, offers one of the best options for treating pancreatic cancer.

Types of Pancreatic Cancer

While there are many subtypes of pancreatic cancer depending on the type of cell affected, pancreatic cancer is divided into two general types: exocrine and endocrine (neuroendocrine) tumors. Exocrine tumors account for about 5% of all pancreatic cancer diagnoses, while endocrine tumors make up the remaining 5%. Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, died from a very rare form of endocrine pancreatic cancer. Tumors in the pancreas aren’t always cancerous – they may be completely benign, or they may be a form of precancer, which is a benign tumor that carries a risk of developing into cancer.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

As with most forms of cancer, the earlier that we can detect and treat pancreatic cancer, the better the chances of recovery. So how can you tell if you’re at risk? While pancreatic cancer often doesn’t produce symptoms until late in its development, any of the following symptoms may be a sign of pancreatic cancer:

  • Jaundice: This is often the first symptom patients experience. Jaundice is a gradual yellowing of the eyes and skin that’s caused by the buildup of bilirubin, which is a dark yellow-brown substance produced by the liver. Bilirubin is a component of bile, which aids in digestion and nutrient extraction in the bowels. If pancreatic cancer forms near the head of the pancreas, it may press on and partially close the common bile duct, which carries bile and other substances from both the pancreas and the liver to the bowels. If the common bile duct is obstructed or closed, bilirubin can build up in the body and cause jaundice.
  • Itchy Skin: If enough bilirubin builds up, the skin may itch in addition to turning yellow.
  • Pain in the belly or back: Pancreatic tumors that grow large enough may press on other organs, causing back pain or belly pain.
  • Loss of appetite & weight loss: Pancreatic cancer can cause patients to completely lose their appetite, which can also cause weight loss.
  • Nausea & vomiting: If the tumor presses on the stomach, it may partially close the entrance of the stomach into the intestines and make it difficult for food to pass through the digestive tract. If this occurs, patients may vomit or feel nauseated.
  • Enlarged liver or gallbladder: If the tumor closes the bile duct, bile may build up in the liver or gallbladder, causing these organs to grow larger.

Schedule a Cancer Treatment Consultation Today

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most serious of all cancer diagnoses, and beating it requires a world-class team – and that’s where we come in. We’re proud to offer cutting-edge treatments for pancreatic cancer that prioritize recovery while preserving your lifestyle, and no matter where you are in your cancer treatment journey, we can help. Don’t wait: take the first step and request a consultation online today. We look forward to hearing from you.

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