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Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is essential for digestion and for regulation of glucose (the body’s form of sugar) in the body. It secretes enzymes (substances that aid digestion) into the small intestine to help break down fats and proteins so the body can use the energy and nutrients in these foods. The pancreas also makes insulin, which helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood.

Early detection and prompt, effective treatment for pancreatic cancer offers the best chance of a good outcome. The two main types of pancreatic cancer are determined by the part of the pancreas where the cancer starts. 

  • The most common type of pancreas cancer arises from cells that line that pancreatic duct (drainage tube of the pancreas). This form has a poor prognosis if not detected early.
  • Cancers arising from the islets of Langerhans (i.e. pancreatic endocrine tumors) have a better long term outcome. These cancers rarely secrete proteins called hormones (e.g. insulin, gastrin, glucagon, etc.) which regulate endocrine systems.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can vary widely, but may include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Pain in the belly area or middle of the back
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Digestive problems
  • Swollen gallbladder
  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes

Multidisciplinary specialists at Indiana University Health provide treatment and support for you as a whole person, not just as a patient. We help you and your family better understand your disease and build a personalized treatment plan around your needs and preferences.

Pancreatic cancer can advance to a late stage before you begin to notice symptoms. Accurate diagnosis is essential to ensure effective treatment. IU Health is one of the most respected health systems in the nation for the diagnosis and multidisciplinary treatment of all types and stages of pancreatic cancer.

Our particular expertise in biopsy (taking a sample of tissue), several kinds of imaging and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) allow us to locate tumors, take biopsies and direct accurate, effective treatment. Physicians throughout the U.S. use diagnostic procedures developed at IU Health to accurately diagnose and treat different types of pancreatic cancer. 

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Information

IU Health physicians use highly specialized methods for detect, diagnose, stage and treat pancreatic cancer. We focus on patient- and family-centered care that combines our expertise with your needs and requests. Together we develop the most effective plan for treating your pancreatic cancer.

Our treatments include:

Pancreatic Cancer Locations & Physicians

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Find a Specialist

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Pancreatic Cancer Support Services

Pancreatic cancer is a complex disease. Learning as much as you can about this cancer and the particular type you have can help you work effectively with your physician. The websites below offer detailed information about pancreatic cancer and other resources you may find useful.