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Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer begins in the pancreas, which is an organ in your abdomen. The pancreas is an important organ that secretes digestive enzymes and produces insulin. Patients with pancreatic cancer unfortunately have a poor prognosis because it spreads quickly and commonly is diagnosed after it has already significantly progressed. 

Symptoms

Patients with pancreatic cancer often have jaundice (yellowing of the skin), weight loss, abdominal pain that radiates to the back, nausea, vomiting, brown urine, and light colored stools.

Possible Causes

It is not known what exactly causes pancreatic cancer. Risk factors of pancreatic cancer include certain genetic mutations, excessive alcohol use, tobacco use, exposure to dyes and chemicals, and chronic pancreatitis.

Treatments

Your JLR Center for Pain Medicine doctor will carefully review your history, perform a thorough examination, and review or order pertinent imaging before creating an individualized care plan unique to your symptoms.

Pancreatic cancer is best treated with a collaboration of multiple specialties, including gastroenterology, endocrinology, oncology, surgery, and pain medicine. Depending on the stage of the cancer, surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be used. 

Pain associated with pancreatic cancer may be treated with opioids. The celiac plexus is a collection of nerves that carries pain signals from the pancreas. A celiac plexus block is a procedure where numbing medicine or a medication that destroys nerves is injected along the celiac plexus. Not all patients with pancreatic cancer are candidates for this therapy.