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Pancreatic cancer

The information on this page was reviewed and approved by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on July 14, 2021.

Pancreatic cancer requires expert care. Know your options.

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas, which is an organ in the abdomen that releases enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that manage blood sugar. The pancreas has two main types of cells: exocrine and endocrine. Most pancreatic tumors develop in the organ’s exocrine cells and are considered exocrine pancreatic cancers. In general, this type of cancer spreads quickly and isn’t detected until it’s advanced. Although the causes of this cancer aren't often known, factors such as smoking and diabetes increase the risk. Symptoms include dark-colored urine, itchy skin, digestive problems, pain in the upper abdomen and sudden weight loss.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our multidisciplinary team of cancer experts works with you to develop a treatment plan that fits your specific diagnosis and needs.

What you should know after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis

Treatment options

close up of doctor performing surgery on cancer patient

Treatment for cancer of the pancreas may involve minimally invasive gastroenterology techniques, chemotherapy and/or interventional radiology. Typically, treatment plans depend on the type and stage of the cancer, and the patient’s personal needs and preferences. Common treatments include:

Chemotherapy may be used alone, or in combination with other treatments like radiation therapy or surgery.

Gatroenterology involves using minimally invasive procedures to treat pancreatic tumors and relieve symptoms of the disease.

Interventional radiology
Doctors use interventional radiology to perform real-time image-guided interventional procedures.

Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy allows doctors to target difficult-to-reach tumors in the pancreas.

Surgery is often an option to treat this cancer when a tumor may be safely and completely removed.

Learn more about treatments for cancer of the pancreas 

Supportive care

Supportive care clinicians help cancer patients maintain their physical, emotional and spiritual wellness before, during and after cancer treatment. That’s important because cancer of the pancreas and relative treatments may cause side effects, such as a decreased ability by the body to digest and absorb nutrients, discomfort after eating and fatigue. Supportive care therapies for these patients may include:


​Nutritional support

Every patient has the option of meeting with a registered dietitian.


​Pain management

Pain management is a branch of medicine focused on reducing pain and improving quality of life through an integrative approach to care.


Behavioral health

​Our behavioral health support program is designed to support you and your caregivers before, during and after cancer treatment.

Learn more
Chris P - Pancreatic Cancer Survivor

Chris P.

Pancreatic Cancer

"For more than two years, I returned to CTCA every month for five to six days at a time. I received chemotherapy intravenously and took advantage of all the supportive care services CTCA offered."


More About CHRIS

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