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Expert Pancreatic Cancer Staging in Southern California

Staging pancreatic cancer involves determining how far the cancer has spread within or from the pancreas. Your Dignity Health Southern California doctor will use a four-stage system to see if the cancer has spread and if surgery can remove the cancer. The results of biopsies, imaging tests, and endoscopies will help your doctor understand the stage of pancreatic cancer.

A pancreatic cancer prognosis is mostly dependent on the cancer’s stage. Find a Doctor today who can provide specialty care for all stages of pancreatic cancer at a Dignity Health Southern California hospital in Long Beach, Northridge, Downtown LA, Glendale, and San Bernardino. We are proud to offer comprehensive cancer care services to patients of all ages.

Identifying the Stages of Pancreatic Cancer

Staging pancreatic cancer is different than the staging for most other cancers. Your doctor will stage, or classify, the cancer by the possibility of removing it with surgery. Cancers that can be removed are resectable, while those that cannot be removed are unresectable.


About 10 to 15 percent of all pancreatic cancers are resectable and can be removed with surgery. Resectable pancreatic tumors have not spread outside of the pancreas. In some cases, the tumor may have spread outside the pancreas, but has not reached blood vessels.

Borderline Resectable

Surgery to remove these tumors may be difficult or not possible. Your doctor may use radiation or chemotherapy to shrink a borderline resectable tumor to make surgical removal possible.

Unresectable Locally Advanced

In this stage, tumors have spread outside the pancreas and possibly into nearby organs and blood vessels. Surgery is not an option for removal, but may be useful for alleviating symptoms. About 35 to 40 percent of pancreatic cancers are locally advanced.

Unresectable Metastatic

Because the cancer has reached distant organs and other body sites, surgery can’t completely remove or cure the cancer. Surgery can relieve symptoms and provide comfort during this stage. About 45 to 55 percent of pancreatic cancers are unresectable metastatic.

Caring for Pancreatic Cancer at Dignity Health Southern California

After reviewing imaging results, your doctor will work with you to see if surgery is the best option. Even if surgery cannot remove the cancer, our cancer specialists focus on caring for your well-being and physical health during treatment. As part of our cancer care services, we offer palliative services rooted in dignity and humankindness.

Our specialists at Dignity Health offer personal care while diagnosing and treating pancreatic cancer stages.