Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed when cancer cells are found within the tissue of the pancreas. When pancreatic cancer occurs, the cells that produce the digestive fluids or hormones in the pancreas grow out of control, typically resulting in a tumor.
Pancreatic cancer specialists in Florida
When it comes to a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, we know you want what's best.
At HCA Florida Physicians — a network of physician practices across the state — our goal is to provide you with the best care possible. We've worked hard to assemble some of the most talented oncologists throughout the state, all dedicated to helping you heal. Our pancreatic oncologists specialize in treating pancreatic cancer from early to advanced stages. Their years of experience have helped them craft their skills at creating personalized treatments tailored to your unique situation.
Learn more about our related specialties.
Understanding pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer occurs when the DNA in the cells of your pancreas change, making the cells behave abnormally. This abnormal behavior causes the cells in your pancreas to grow uncontrollably, resulting in a tumor. It’s not exactly clear what causes pancreatic cancer. However, there are some factors that may increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer. These may include:
- Certain genetic mutations
- Chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Family history of pancreatic cancer
- Older age
Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer
Unfortunately, there are usually no early warning signs of pancreatic cancer. Most symptoms do not occur until the disease is at an advanced stage.
Some symptoms may include:
- Dark-colored urine
- Itchy skin
- Light-colored stools
- Loss of appetite or unusual weight loss
- Unusual abdominal pain
- Yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice)
Diagnosing pancreatic cancer
Our doctors use several different methods — including imaging exams — to diagnose pancreatic cancer.
Some of these methods are:
- Blood tests
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Pancreatic cancer treatments we offer
Pancreatic cancer is complex, which is why our doctors use equally complex procedures to treat it. Our physicians offer a variety of options — nonsurgical and surgical — to treat pancreatic cancer.
Arterial embolization is used to target tumors inside of the pancreas. During the procedure, the physician guides small pieces of a special material through a catheter that blocks the blood flow to the main renal blood vessel. This lack of blood flow causes the cancer cells to die.
A distal pancreatectomy is performed if a tumor is located within the body or tail portion of the pancreas. During the procedure, the surgeon removes half of the pancreas where the tumor is located, preserving the head of the pancreas and as much healthy tissue as possible.
During an irreversible electroporation, the doctor will place two or more fine-needle electrodes around the tumor, guided by CT or ultrasound imaging.
The electrodes deliver a series of high-voltage, low-energy currents to kill the cancer cells, without the need for extreme cold or heat. Because of this, no harm will be done to surrounding tissue.
A common type of cancer treatment — radiation therapy — is used to shrink or destroy a tumor. During radiation therapy, beams of energy are aimed directly at the tumor to shrink the cancerous cells. This ability to directly target the tumor causes less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
The Whipple procedure, also known as pancreatoduodenectomy, is used to remove tumors present in the top section of the pancreas.
During the Whipple procedure, your surgeon removes the head of the pancreas, part of the bile duct, part of the stomach and the gallbladder. Then, the surgeon reconnects the remaining intestine, bile duct, pancreas and stomach so the body can continue to digest food and expel waste.
Our pancreatic cancer specialists
Pancreatic cancer is often aggressive and not found until later stages, which means its takes highly trained and specialized doctors to provide you with the best possible outcome.
At HCA Florida Physicians, we provide access to dedicated oncologists, equipped with expertise and ready to face the fight against pancreatic cancer. Additionally, as a part of HCA Florida Healthcare, our doctors can collaborate with other specialists, should they need additional resources.
No matter who is involved in your care, they all have the same goal in mind — helping you heal.
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