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Understanding Pancreatic Cancer Stages in Northern California

Pancreatic cancer stages help doctors determine the extent of cancer in the body and the available treatment options. Cancer stages usually range from stage 0 to stage 4 (IV), but that scale isn’t useful for pancreatic cancer. Instead, doctors use a system that indicates whether surgery is an option and if the cancer has spread. Biopsies, endoscopies, and imaging tests are used to stage pancreatic cancer.

The cancer care specialists at Dignity Health North State take a team approach to treating pancreatic cancer. Doctors, nurses, and other skilled health care providers work together to help you along your treatment journey with personal care. Regardless of your pancreatic cancer stage in Northern California, you can Find a Doctor who will treat you with a philosophy of care, dignity, and respect.


Resectable Pancreatic Cancer Treatment at Dignity Health North State

Resectable pancreatic cancers have not spread outside the pancreas and can be removed with surgery. Cancer that has grown beyond the pancreas but has not invaded blood vessels is also considered resectable. Around 15 percent of pancreatic cancers are resectable. 

Sometimes pancreatic cancer looks resectable based on imaging tests, such as CT scan, but is determined not to be during surgery. If this is the case, the surgeon may call off the surgery to avoid the risk of complications.


Borderline Resectable Pancreatic Cancer

Borderline resectable pancreatic cancers are difficult or impossible to remove surgically at diagnosis. Chemotherapy and radiation are used to shrink the tumors with the goal of making them resectable.


Unresectable Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer has spread beyond the pancreas, but not to distant tissues or organs. For example, the cancer may be growing into nearby blood vessels. Surgery may be used to relieve symptoms, but it cannot remove all of the cancer or be used as a cure. About 35 to 40 percent of pancreatic cancers are locally advanced at diagnosis.


Unresectable Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer

In unresectable metastatic pancreatic cancers, cancer has spread to distant organs. Surgery cannot remove all of the cancer or offer a cure, but it may help relieve symptoms. Around half of pancreatic cancers are unresectable metastatic when diagnosed.

With the help of these stages, you and your doctor can determine the right treatment for your particular needs. Sometimes palliative care is the goal of treatment. In these cases, your Dignity Health care team will work to care for your physical, mental, and spiritual needs.