Cancer of the pancreas is one of the most challenging malignancies to treat successfully.

While not as common as other cancers—such as colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancers—it is actually the fourth leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. That’s because in most cases, it is inoperable or has already spread by the time it is diagnosed. At John Theurer Cancer Center, part of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, patients with pancreatic cancer receive comprehensive care to treat the disease while maintaining their quality of life as much as possible.

 

Treatment of Pancreatic Precancers

Some people are at increased risk of pancreatic cancer due to precancerous pancreatic cysts. John Theurer Cancer Center is the first center in New Jersey to use radiofrequency ablation to treat these cysts, preventing their potential progression to cancer. Guided by endoscopic ultrasound (EUS, an imaging method that uses high-energy sound waves), the interventional endoscopist inserts a scope through the patient’s mouth and into the esophagus to locate the cyst. The doctor inserts a needle through the scope and into the lesion, applying intense heat through the needle to destroy the cyst.

Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

Our gastrointestinal cancer surgeons treat a high volume of patients and offer the full range of surgical techniques. For patients with operable pancreatic cancer, our surgeons are very experienced performing every type of operation—from minimally invasive robotic-assisted procedures to remove smaller tumors to the more extensive “Whipple” surgery (pancreaticoduodenectomy, which involves removing the head of the pancreas, part of the small intestine, the gall bladder, part of the stomach, and lymph nodes). The Whipple procedure is a complex operation best left to the most experienced surgeons, such as those at John Theurer Cancer Center.

Interventional Procedures for Pancreatic Cancer

The interventional endoscopists at John Theurer Cancer Center are highly skilled in performing a range of techniques to diagnose, stage, and treat pancreatic cancer.

  • Visualizing the pancreas. EUS is used to locate, biopsy, and drain lesions in the pancreas. The results of EUS are also used to determine if you are eligible for surgery.
  • Making the diagnosis. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) combines endoscopy and x-rays to see the pancreas and bile ducts and remove tissue for biopsy. ERCP can be combined with SpyGlass digital choledochoscopy to better visualize the pancreas and bile ducts, which may become blocked or narrowed in patients with pancreatic cancer.
  • Palliative treatments. A number of interventional procedures can relieve discomfort and improve quality of life in patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer. ERCP can be combined with various techniques to relieve pain, jaundice, and other symptoms. These approaches include dilation and the placement of a stent (a meshlike tube) to open and drain blocked bile ducts and relieve jaundice, as well as the use of shock waves (lithotripsy) to destroy pain-causing stones.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Chemotherapy is a mainstay of treatment for most people with pancreatic cancer. Sometimes we can give it before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it operable. If chemotherapy is part of your treatment plan, you can receive the latest pancreatic cancer therapies in our comfortable, modern infusion suite, guided by your medical oncologist and delivered by experienced oncology nurses who monitor you and ensure your comfort throughout your infusion. If you need radiation therapy, you can receive it in our state-of-the-art radiation treatment center—the most comprehensive radiation oncology facility in New Jersey, offering the most advanced technologies available.

Our Gastrointestinal Oncology Specialists


Clinical Trials for Pancreatic Cancer

Because pancreatic cancer is so difficult to treat with standard therapies, clinical trials of new drugs and promising treatment combinations offer the most hope for patients. John Theurer Cancer Center conducts more clinical trials than any other cancer center in New Jersey. We also have a dedicated Phase I Clinical Trial Program, offering access to new treatments during their earliest stage of evaluation in patients. You may have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial of an innovative therapy.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinical Trials

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