Pancreatic Cancer | Miami Cancer Institute | Baptist Health South Florida
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Woman supporting her husband, a _____ cancer patient at Miami Cancer Institute

 Pancreatic Cancer

At Miami Cancer Institute, patients with pancreatic cancer have access to the most innovative physicians, cutting-edge clinical treatments and comprehensive Cancer Patient Support Center. Our cancer care team develops a personalized plan of care based on factors such as your health history, cancer type and stage and personal preferences.

Expert Pancreatic Cancer Care

Our highly experienced gastrointestinal cancer physicians have trained and conducted research at some of the nation's most renowned medical centers. Miami Cancer Institute’s chief executive officer and executive medical director, Michael J. Zinner, M.D., is a world-renowned cancer surgeon and researcher who specializes in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

About Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach. The exocrine cells of the pancreas secrete enzymes that aid in digestion and the endocrine cells release hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars. About 95 percent of pancreatic cancers are cancer of the exocrine cells, known as adenocarcinoma.  

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors

Researchers have found several risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer. They include:

  • Age. About 70 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer are over age 65.
  • Gender. Men are about 30 percent more likely to develop the disease than women.
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer or pancreatitis or rare syndromes such as Lynch syndrome. 
  • Lifestyle choices, including diet, inactivity, alcohol use and smoking.
  • Personal history of diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, chronic pancreatitis or hepatitis B infection.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer sometimes is called a silent disease because symptoms rarely are present in its early stages. When symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Change in stools (light-colored)
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Diabetes onset
  • Digestive difficulties
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting

Miami Cancer Institute’s highly skilled diagnostic specialists work together to determine the extent and stage of the disease. A precise diagnosis is important because it helps your cancer care team develop the most effective treatment plan.  

To diagnose pancreatic cancer, your physician will perform a physical examination and review your health history, lifestyle habits and family medical history. You also may have one or more of the following tests to determine if cancer is present.

  • Imaging tests, including CT, MRI and PET scans, angiography with X-ray. which may include:
  • Biopsy, to examine a small tissue sample.
  • Blood tests, to measure tumor markers and organ function.
  • Endoscopic tests, which enable physicians to view areas of the pancreas.

You need a dedicated team of experts to help you fight pancreatic cancer. Our highly competent care team is forward-thinking, employing research and unmatched experience to deliver hope and healing. Your comprehensive, personalized treatment plan may include:

  • Surgery, including Whipple procedure, distal pancreatectomy, total pancreatectomy and palliative surgery.
  • Chemotherapy, to destroy cancer cells and control their growth.
  • Radiation therapy, using the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.
  • Targeted therapy, which uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread.
  • Tumor ablation, including radiofrequency ablation, microwave thermotherapy and cryoablation.
  • Medication, to relieve and reduce pain.
  • Clinical trials that offer the opportunity to try new therapies.  

Experts in our Cancer Patient Support Center will collaborate with your care team to provide you with supportive therapies in areas such as psychosocial oncology, pain management, integrative medicine, nutrition and exercise and rehabilitation.