Duke’s pancreatic cancer specialists use the latest medical and surgical advances to find and treat pancreatic cancer at the earliest possible stage. Our skilled surgeons perform more complex surgeries to remove pancreatic cancer, including the Whipple procedure, than any other North Carolina hospital. Through our clinical trials, we also offer access to therapies that are not widely available. We arm you with the tools and treatment options needed to help your body fight pancreatic cancer every step of the way.
Dedicated, experienced pancreatic cancer team
When a patient faces a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, a large cancer center like ours ensures you get the prompt attention you need, and access to the latest treatment advances as soon as possible. Giving you the best possible patient care is our number one priority.
Our doctors and surgeons have advanced training to treat pancreatic cancer, and see more pancreatic cancer patients than any other hospital in North Carolina. We are nationally recognized leaders in the use of advanced imaging, including endoscopic ultrasound, to diagnose pancreatic cancer at the earliest possible stage. Our medical and surgical teams work closely together to develop personalized treatment plans that meet your needs. You may also be eligible to participate in our clinical trials, which may give you access to promising therapies that are not available at most medical centers.
Choose Duke for your pancreatic cancer treatment because we offer:
- Leadership in Whipple procedures. Whipple pancreaticoduodenectomy is a complex surgical procedure that removes the head of the pancreas and the attached duodenum and bile duct. It requires a high level of experience and expertise. We perform Whipple surgeries more often than any other North Carolina hospital. Studies show that patients who undergo Whipple surgeries in major cancer centers like ours experience fewer surgical complications, shorter hospital stays, and recover more quickly.
- Nationally ranked cancer program. We are consistently ranked among the best cancer programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, our pancreatic cancer team is recognized for exploring new therapies through ongoing research and clinical trials. We are also part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving patient care.
- Endoscopic ultrasound experts. As leaders in this sophisticated high-definition imaging technology, we can diagnose your pancreatic cancer earlier, in the most treatable stages, and obtain accurate staging information.
- Team expertise and collaboration. Our medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists and support team work with you to develop a treatment plan based on your stage and type of pancreatic cancer. Our team meets weekly to ensure our patients receive the most beneficial treatment options and access to clinical trials.
- Dedicated staff. Advanced practice providers with expertise in pancreatic cancer work with our doctors to help manage your care. They work with you from the time of your first diagnosis through your treatments. We have a dedicated nutritionist on staff who evaluates all new patients and offers counseling on diet and supplements you need to enhance your recovery. If you require surgery, our nutritionist will help you progress to normal eating and digestion as quickly as possible, a major hurdle for many patients with pancreatic cancer.
- Access to our clinical trials. You may be eligible to participate in our ongoing clinical trials, which may give you access to new anti-cancer targeted therapies, new surgical approaches, and ways to minimize common cancer-related symptoms. Our clinical trial therapies are available to you before they become widely available at most hospitals.
- A comforting environment. Our Duke Cancer Center features spacious waiting areas, a Quiet Room, large infusion rooms, and a rooftop garden area where patients — based on their treatment regimen — can receive chemotherapy outdoors.
- Support for you. Our comprehensive support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.
Kills or slows the growth of the tumor. We often recommend chemotherapy before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor and minimize damage to surrounding tissue and organs.
External beams deliver radiation directly to your pancreatic tumor to slow or stop cancer growth. Radiation therapy may be combined with chemotherapy before or after surgery.
Drains or surgically unblocks your bile duct to alleviate symptoms of jaundice, which may result from a buildup of extra bile in your body.
Removes the tumor when pancreatic cancer is confined to the pancreas. Chemotherapy and radiation may be recommended before or after surgery.
Also referred to as a pancreaticoduodenectomy, Whipple is a complex procedure during which your surgeon removes the head of the pancreas. This surgery also removes the first part of the small intestine, known as the duodenum, and part of your bile duct. Select patients may be candidates for the operation to be performed through small incisions, rather than a large incision. The minimally invasive option can minimize scarring and pain, shorten hospital stays, and hasten recovery.
Surgically removes the body and tail of the pancreas, and sometimes the spleen, to remove the cancer if the pancreatic tumor has not spread to distant sites. May be performed using small incisions on most patients.
Helps relieve symptoms and pain associated with pancreatic cancer.
- Stent placement. An imaging device, called an endoscope, may be used to guide the insertion of plastic or metal mesh tubes to open the bile duct.
- Biliary bypass. Surgically attaches the gallbladder or bile duct to the small intestine when a tumor blocks the bile duct and causes bile build-up in the liver (a condition called jaundice). This may also reduce pain associated with pancreatic cancer.
- Gastric bypass. Surgically attaches the stomach to the small intestine when cancer blocks the outlet to the stomach. This lets you eat normally.
If you have a family history of pancreatic cancer, we may recommend genetic screening, as well as advanced imaging.
A tube with an imaging device at its tip is inserted through the mouth to create high-quality images of the pancreas and surrounding tissue. Our gastroenterologists may also use this technology to remove, and sometimes biopsy, tissue and suspicious lesions which are tested to determine if cancer is present.
Our radiologists are specially trained to create the highest quality CT and MRI images of your pancreas and the surrounding area. This lets us identify the stage and type of tumor and recommend the best treatment for you.