Pancreatic Cancer Treatment at Scripps
Scripps Clinic’s Pancreas and Biliary Cancer Program is recognized as a Center of Excellence by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and serves as a member of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Team. It is the only pancreatic cancer clinical trials consortium dedicated to developing new agents for the treatment of patients with the disease.
From support groups and nutrition services to integrative medicine and physical rehabilitation, Scripps offers a wide range of support services for people diagnosed with cancer.
Exceptional care for pancreatic cancer
Dedicated to providing the best pancreatic cancer treatment possible, the Scripps Clinic Pancreas and Biliary Cancer Program is a multidisciplinary team of pathologists, radiation and medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, pancreaticobiliary surgeons, nurses and radiologists. Together, the team works to precisely diagnose and stage each patient’s cancer and develop individualized care plans to treat it.
Our medical specialists provide care for:
- Pancreatic adenocarcinoma
- Pancreatic islet cell tumors (also known as neuroendocrine tumors)
- Pancreatic cysts
- Ampullary adenocarcinoma
- Gallbladder cancer
- Diagnosis and treatment for pancreatic cancers
Pancreatic cancer diagnosis
Treatment at Scripps begins with expert diagnosis. Our gastroenterologists, pathologists and radiologists use advanced diagnostics to detect pancreatic and bile duct cancer, such as:
- Spyglass, which is an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography technique, also called ERCP, used to identify stones, tumors or narrowing in the bile ducts.
- Endoscopic ultrasound with needle biopsy and fiducial placement, which are gold markers implanted into the tumor to guide radiation therapy.
Depending on the type and stage of pancreatic cancer, treatment options may be used alone or in combination, including:
Pancreatic cancer surgery
Surgery may be able to remove pancreatic cancers that are localized to the pancreas and have not spread to other parts of the body. These surgeries are technically challenging, and Scripps Clinic offers a team of highly skilled and accomplished pancreaticobiliary surgeons that frequently performs them:
- Pancreaticoduodenectomy (also known as a Whipple procedure) is a complex surgery that involves removal of the head of the pancreas and may include removal of the body of the pancreas and part of the small intestine, bile duct, gallbladder, lymph nodes and stomach. This is usually open surgery but can sometimes be performed laparoscopically.
- Distal pancreatectomy is a procedure in which a surgeon removes the tail of the pancreas or the tail and a part of the pancreas body. Typically the spleen is removed during this surgery.
- Total pancreatectomy is the complete removal of the pancreas and spleen.
- Palliative surgery is a potential option to help relieve or prevent symptoms when pancreatic cancer has spread too far and is at such an advanced stage that it cannot be completely removed.
- Bypass surgery may be an option for patients to route bile from the common bile duct to the small intestine, bypassing the pancreas.
Radiation therapy may be used after pancreatic cancer surgery or for patients who cannot have surgery. The Scripps Radiation Therapy Center and Scripps Proton Therapy Center offer the latest advances in delivering highly focused external beam radiation, which may be an option better tolerated by patients whose health would not make them a candidate for complex pancreatic surgery.
Chemotherapy and infusion services
New chemotherapy drugs are providing pancreatic cancer patients new hope. The Pancreas and Biliary Cancer Program is helping to play a key role in the clinical studies of new drugs.
Chemotherapy may be used as part of a treatment plan to shrink pancreatic cancer tumors pre-surgery. It can also be used post-surgery with an aim of preventing cancer recurrence by attacking undetectable cells.
To enhance the care of people with pancreatic cancer, Scripps Health also offers the following services: