What Should You Know About Pancreatic Cancer?

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According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, in 2016, pancreatic cancer moved from the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the US to the third, surpassing breast cancer. It has the lowest five-year survival rate of any major cancer (just 9 percent).

At Penn, we aren't standing for that. Our Pancreatic Cancer Program is working every day with a multidisciplinary team of experts in the field of pancreatic cancer to bring new techniques and more treatment options to those who have been diagnosed. The program is dedicated to the urgent need to detect pancreatic cancer early and improve treatment options for all pancreatic cancer patients.

How can you prevent pancreatic cancer?

The best way to prevent pancreatic cancer is to measure your risk. If you have any of the following risk factors, you should talk to your doctor about ways to decrease your risk and if genetic testing is right for you. Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Having diabetes
  • Being obese
  • Being over the age of 65
  • Having chronic inflammation of the pancreas
  • Having a family history of pancreatic cancer

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

One of the scariest things about pancreatic cancer is that it's sometimes very difficult to detect. Symptoms are often subtle and may include:

  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Diabetes
  • Changes in stool.

Pancreatic cancer is easiest to treat when it's caught early, so it's really important to listen to your body and to see a doctor if you feel off.

Why Penn for pancreatic cancer treatment?

Penn's pancreatic cancer team is nationally and internationally recognized for its specialized and advanced techniques in treating pancreatic cancer.

Expertise in Pancreas Surgery

Pancreas surgery is technically difficult and complex. Penn’s pancreas surgeons perform among the highest volume of pancreatic operations in the United States, including the Whipple Surgery procedure, with reduced complication rates and long-term survival outcomes that set the standard nationally. Our surgeons are leading the way in advanced care, surgical research and education.

Learn more about our GI Surgery Program

Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Trials

Penn’s Pancreatic Cancer Research Center (PCRC) brings together a team from all areas of the health system to advance early detection, enhance diagnostic capabilities, test new drugs in the lab and quickly translate findings to the clinic.

The PCRC has a multitude of active pancreatic cancer clinical trials with options for all pancreatic cancer patients, regardless of their stage. Together with the Parker Institute for Immunotherapy, we are leading the way with pancreatic cancer immunotherapy clinical trials.

Learn more about clinical trials

Dedicated Pancreas Cancer Nurse Navigator

Our dedicated nurse navigator, Patricia Gambino, will help provide guidance through this devastating diagnosis and help coordinate your care quickly.

Learn more about the difference having a nurse navigator can make

GI Cancer Risk Evaluation Programs

Knowing your family’s history of pancreatic cancer is important. If you think you may be at risk for pancreatic cancer, speak with your primary care physician or GI Medicine provider about the GI Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Penn Medicine. The program offers patients genetic testing, evaluation and a plan for managing their risk.

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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