Some of the signs that may have led to your original diagnosis may have included pain in the upper or middle abdomen, nausea, weight loss, diminished appetite and jaundice or a yellowing of the skin. After the appropriate staging tests are done, it is important to determine whether or not you are a surgical candidate. If you are a good candidate for surgery we will work together to select an experienced surgeon to be a part of the team.

If other treatment methods such as chemotherapy or inclusion in a clinical trial are to be considered, these will be outlined extensively after a discussion with the referrig physician, with you and with your family.

There are distinct rays of hope in the management of this disease and, wherever possible, cure will be the goal of therapy. If you would like to read more about pancreatic cancer, we have provided several links at the right to authoritative sources about the disease, treatments and support. We will maintain a hopeful and aggressive attitude towards the management of this particular tumor and hope you will as well.

© Lynn Herbert Ratner MD

Pancreatic Cancer Basics disclaimer

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The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can create a great deal of fear and anxiety. However, it is important to understand that there are many new developments in the treatment of this disease and it is important to receive treatment where the physicians are fully cognizant of these advances. It is also important to be treated by a variety of specialists as a multi disciplinary team. Our practice strongly believes in and practices the multi disciplinary approach, especially for pancreatic cancer. Other physicians who may be a part of the team include surgeons, radiologists, and endocrine specialists as well as the patient's own primary care physician. Wherever possible we will also inform the patient about the possibility of clinical trials.

Correct diagnosis, staging and surgery in managing pancreatic cancer are widely recognized as being very important to survival. When you are initially diagnosed with this disease, your doctors will need to establish whether your tumor is invasive or not and whether it has spread from its original site and, if so, to what extent. This process is called “staging”. This is done with various lab tests and imaging studies.

It is also important to distinguish the types of pancreatic cancer, namely those that fall into what is called adenocarcinoma, and the usually slower growing neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas. The rest of this discussion will center on pancreatic adenocarcinomas. To learn more about neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas (or pNETs), please click here to see the section on carcinoid tumors and neuroendocrine tumors.

Today, pancreatic cancer survival at five years approaches 40% if the tumors are surgically removed while they are still small. Our efforts at staging will be geared to coordinate with the surgeon and gastroenterologist to see if that can become a reality. It is most important to work quickly to confirm the diagnosis and to review the proposed course of treatment, obtaining the opinions of the other doctors on the medical team wherever necessary.

To help you understand this disease better you should know that the pancreas is located in the upper part of the abdomen behind the stomach. Because of this location it may require specialized imaging studies to find the full extent of the disease. The pancreas is responsible for producing enzymes to aid in digestion of food. If disturbances are found in that aspect of pancreatic function, the symptoms can often be controlled with various medications. In addition, insulin, an important hormone secreted by the pancreas to control blood sugar levels, must be monitored.

Valuable Pancreatic Cancer Resources

The National Cancer Institute information for patients about pancreatic cancer

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The National Library of Medicine
information for patients about pancreatic cancer

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Pancreatica.org. Resources for patients

Lynn H Ratner MD
Dialecti Voudouris MD
Paul A C Greenberg MD

112 East 83rd Street
New York City NY 10028
tel: 1-212-396-0400 fax: 1-212-396-9800

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