Pancreatic Cancer

This section provides information on the different types of pancreatic cancer and how it is diagnosed and treated within the Belfast Trust. Please follow the links below:

 


Types

There are five main types of pancreatic cancer. These are:

  • Ductal Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. It begins in the pancreatic duct and can spread from there to other parts of the body. 
  • Neuro-Endocrine Tumours: These begin in the endocrine cells where insulin and other hormones are made.
  • Cystic tumours: These are fluid-filled sacs in the pancreas.
  • Acinar cell carcinomas: These start from the cells that make pancreatic juice.
  • Lymphoma: This is a cancer of the lymphatic tissue in the pancreas.

Please follow the link for more information on pancreatic cancer

 

Investigations and diagnosis

Patients referred to the Belfast Trust who are suspected of having a pancreatic cancer will be seen by a specialist Consultant at their first appointment. The consultant will ask about the patient's symptoms and general health before doing a physical examination. Patients may have blood taken for testing.

Patients may undergo a number of tests and scans to find out the cause of their symptoms. Theses investigations include:

 

Treatment

There are a number of treatments used to treat pancreatic cancer.  The type of treatment a patient will have depends on their individual circumstances. They will make their decision to treat after discussion with their Consultant. Patients must give their consent before they can have any treatment. Please follow the links below for more information:

Surgery

 
Surgery aims to completely remove the cancer with an operation. Surgery to remove pancreatic cancer usually involves a procedure known as Whipple’s Procedure. Patients undergoing this treatment may have part of the stomach removed.

A Consultant or Surgeon will provide patients with a information leaflet about the operation which details the nature of the surgery including complications.

 

 

 

Diagram 1: The parts of the body affected by a Whipple's Procedure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diagram 2: Structure of organs after completion of the Whipple's Procedure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stenting

Prior to surgery to remove pancreatic cancer patients may have a small tube known as a stent inserted. the stent relieves common symptoms of jaundice. Jaundice is caused by a blockage of the flow of bile through the common bile duct into the intestine.

Jaundice is common in pancreatic cancer, and its symptoms can make patients feel very ill. Occasionally, the Surgeon may suggest the patient has a bypass operation to get round a blockage in the bowel and to keep the digestive system working.