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Advanced Care for Pancreatic Cancer at Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care

Pancreatic cancer is not a common cancer. In the United States, it represents about 3% of all cancers.

Having pancreatic cancer means you have a malignant tumor in your pancreas — the organ responsible for making certain hormones and aiding in digestion. There are two basic types of pancreatic cancer:

  • Exocrine tumors affect the glands that make digestive enzymes and release them into the intestines. Exocrine tumors are the most common type of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma accounts for about 95% of this type of pancreatic cancer.
  • Endocrine tumors affect pancreatic islets cells, which make hormones, such as insulin and glucagon. Endocrine tumors are not common, accounting for less than 4% of pancreatic cancers.

If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Fall River or Fairhaven, MA, you can find all of the support and resources you need at Southcoast Health.

Risk Factors & Causes

Experts don’t fully understand what causes pancreatic cancer. Risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer include:

  • African American race
  • Age — most people are older than 60
  • Excess weight — being obese makes pancreatic cancer 20% more likely
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Genetics — about 10% of pancreatic cancers are related to mutations in genes, such as BRCA2, p16/CDKN2A and PRSS1
  • Male gender — men are 30% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer
  • Other medical conditions, including diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis and stomach conditions
  • Tobacco use — up to 30% of pancreatic cancers are linked to cigarette smoking, but cigar smoking and smokeless tobacco also increase the risk

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

The pancreas lies deep in your abdomen, behind the stomach. This makes it virtually impossible to feel tumors as they develop and grow. As a result, pancreatic cancer is hard to find in early stages. By the time people notice symptoms, pancreatic cancer has usually spread to other organs.

When symptoms of pancreatic cancer develop, they may include:

  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Blood clots
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Digestive problems
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Weight loss and lack of appetite

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment in Fall River & Fairhaven, MA

Treatment depends on the type and stage of pancreatic cancer. Standard treatment options include:

With current treatments, it is often hard to cure or eliminate pancreatic cancer. Instead, treatment may aim to control the cancer and ease pain and other symptoms. To see what your best treatment options are, find a specialist near you at one of our Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care.

Southcoast Health provides advanced, compassionate and expert care to patients with pancreatic cancer in Fall River and Fairhaven, MA, as well as parts of Rhode Island.