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Personal Care for Pancreatic Cancer


The pancreas is the organ responsible for making certain hormones and aiding in digestion. Pancreatic cancer, although rare, is cancer that starts in the pancreas.

There are two basic types of pancreatic cancer. Exocrine tumors affect the glands that make digestive enzymes. This is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. Endocrine tumors affect pancreatic islets cells, which make hormones, such as glucagon and insulin. 

At Dignity Health hospitals, we offer a full range of cancer treatments, using the latest technologies and methods. To learn our comprehensive care for pancreatic cancer in the Bay Area, you can Find a Doctor at one of our four convenient locations: 

Pancreatic Cancer: Risk Factors

Experts don’t fully understand what causes pancreatic cancer. Risk factors that increase your chances of developing pancreatic cancer include: 

  • Genetics. About one in 10 pancreatic cancers are related to mutations in genes.
  • Tobacco use. About one third of pancreatic cancers are linked to cigarette smoking. Cigar smoking and using smokeless tobacco also increase your risk.
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer. You are more likely to develop the disease if someone in your family has had it.
  • Age. Most cases of pancreatic cancer occur in people older than 60.
  • Male gender. Men are 30 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women.
  • Being overweight. Pancreatic cancer is 20 percent more likely in people who are obese.
  • African American race. In the US, pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in African Americans more often than any other racial or ethnic group.
  • Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions can increase your risk, including diabetes, liver cirrhosis, chronic pancreatitis, and stomach conditions.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Because the pancreas lies deep in the abdomen, you cannot feel tumors as they grow. As a result, pancreatic cancer is hard to find in early stages. Most people don’t notice symptoms until the cancer has spread from the pancreas to other organs. When symptoms of pancreatic cancer develop, they may include: 

  • Blood clots
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Digestive problems
  • Weight loss and lack of appetite

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Options in the Bay Area

Our cancer care team offers state-of-the-art treatment options for pancreatic cancer. Your treatment will depend on the type and stage of pancreatic cancer you are diagnosed with. 

Standard treatment options include: 

  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted cancer therapy
  • Surgery

Pancreatic cancer is a difficult cancer to cure or eliminate — rely on Dignity Health oncologists to be committed to your care and well-being every step of the way.

Dignity Health offers diagnostic testing, treatment, and management of pancreatic cancer in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.