Oncology

Pancreatic, Bile Duct, and Gallbladder Cancer

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Learn More About Our Pancreatic Cancer Services

As integral parts of your gastrointestinal and digestive systems, your pancreas, bile ducts, and gallbladder all assist in the breakdown of foods. Cancers that occur in these organs typically are found after symptoms develop as there are no good screening tests available.

Risk Factors

While there are no specific means of prevention, there are a number of risk factors associated with these cancers, and most specifically pancreatic cancer. These risk factors include:

  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Health issues including obesity and diets high in fat
  • Exposure to harsh chemicals
  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, and Lynch syndrome.
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Older age, as most people are diagnosed after age 65

A large study demonstrated that the combination of smoking, long-standing diabetes and a poor diet increases the risk of pancreatic cancer beyond the risk of any one of these factors alone. You may reduce your chances of getting pancreatic cancer if you stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight and select a diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Symptoms of Pancreatic, Bile Duct and Gallbladder Cancer

Each of these cancers is difficult to detect early. The most common symptoms of each include: yellowing of the skin and eyes, upper abdominal pain with our without fever, weight loss, nausea/vomiting, skin itching, new onset or sudden worsening of diabetes.

Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer

If an individual has specific signs and symptoms that lead to pancreatic, bile duct or gall bladder cancer, a series of tests and exams will be done to find the actual cause. If findings suggestive of cancer are found during these tests, more tests may be ordered to determine the severity. The most common diagnostic tests include:

Pancreatic, Bile Duct, and Gallbladder Cancer Treatments

Treatment is tailored to the specific characteristics of each patient and each tumor. The most common treatments include:

  • Surgery: To remove the cancer or the affected area, if possible.
  • Radiation: To help shrink the tumor prior to surgery, or to help reduce the risk of cancer returning after surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may be given prior to surgery to help improve the chance of complete removal of the tumor or may be given in inoperable patients to help prolong and improve quality of life.
  • Targeted therapy: In some situations, these drugs that target specific weaknesses in the cancer cell may cause less side effects and therefore can be used to treat these cancers.

Schedule a Consultation

To request an appointment or to obtain a second opinion on your diagnosis, please call the CareMount Medical Cancer Center Referral Line at 1-844-484-3292.

Pancreatic, Bile Duct and Gallbladder Cancer Providers