Pancreatic cancer can sometimes develop if cell growth goes awry. The pancreas is an organ that secretes enzymes that aid digestion by breaking down food. Certain pancreatic glands also produce insulin, which helps control the amount of sugar in the blood, along with other hormones that help the body store and use energy from food. For reasons that aren’t fully understood, new cells can grow within the pancreas before the body needs them, or old cells might live longer than they should. The resulting accumulation of excess cells can form a tissue mass, or tumor.
A tumor in the pancreas can be either benign or malignant. A benign tumor will not spread beyond the pancreas or invade other tissues, and usually will not grow back after removal. On the other hand, malignant pancreatic tumors, or pancreatic cancer, can spread to and damage other tissues and organs throughout the body, such as the lymph nodes, liver, peritoneum and lungs. Although a malignant tumor can sometimes be removed, it can potentially grow back.
Malignant pancreatic tumors are classified based on the types of cells in which they originate. The most common form develops in the exocrine cells that line the main pancreatic duct or its side branches, or more rarely, in the tail of the pancreas.
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Within Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, we take a multispecialty approach to pancreatic cancer care. In a single location, our patients have access to a comprehensive range of treatments provided by a collaborative team of highly experienced and specialized professionals, including:
- Board-certified surgeons
- Medical oncologists
- Radiation oncologists
These experts meet weekly as a tumor board to review patient cases and work together to deliver comprehensive, individualized care. As a result, each Moffitt patient receives the benefit of having multiple expert opinions at each phase of his or her evaluation and treatment. Additionally, our compassionate oncology nurses, social workers and dietitians provide a full range of supportive care to our pancreatic cancer patients.
As the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida, Moffitt continues to blaze new trails that advance cancer research. In addition to our extensive portfolio of clinical trials, Moffitt administers several molecular therapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy drugs that are not readily available elsewhere, allowing us to provide our patients with the opportunity to be among the first to receive highly advanced therapies. As a result, our pancreatic cancer survival rates remain above national averages and we continue to enhance our patients’ quality of life.
To learn more about our comprehensive pancreatic cancer services, no referral is needed to call 1-888-MOFFITT or schedule an appointment online.