Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer overview

You are at the center of everything we do at the Pancreatic Cancer Specialty Clinic at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). Here, we surround you with a team of specialists who work together closely to provide expertly targeted, complete care and compassionate support throughout your treatment and beyond.

Our goal is to reduce any obstacles you and your family may face in navigating a complex medical system. We guide you every step of the way, combining our deep clinical expertise in pancreatic cancer with a commitment to meet your unique needs.

If you have a neuroendocrine tumor (NET) of the pancreas, visit our NET section

Why choose SCCA?

  • True team care
    The multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Specialty Clinic has a team of surgical, medical and radiation oncologists as well as radiologists, pathologists, nurses, symptom management and pain specialists, dietitians and social workers, all dedicated to taking care of you.
  • Experienced pancreatic cancer specialists
    SCCA patients receive state-of-the-art care from some of the world’s leading doctors. In fact, our doctors help define the national standards for pancreatic cancer care. We treat many patients with pancreatic cancer.
  • Comprehensive pancreatic cancer treatment 
    Our doctors provide the full spectrum of treatments you may need: surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy. Before your first visit, your team reviews your medical records (and may ask for more tests) so we're prepared to design and explain your individualized treatment plan the same day we see you.
  • Pancreatic cancer clinical trials
    To give you access to the most innovative therapies, SCCA unites the leading researchers and cancer specialists of Fred Hutch and UW Medicine so you can take part in pancreatic cancer clinical studies not available everywhere. We'll talk with you about both standard treatments and studies that might be right for you. In partnership with PanCAN's Precision Promise, SCCA has a new approach to pancreatic cancer clinical trials that aim to get new and better treatments approved more quickly.
  • Where you're treated first matters most
    Studies have shown that patients evaluated and treated at a multidisciplinary cancer center, like SCCA, have better outcomes and that the first treatment you receive for cancer is by far the most important. Patients who begin treatment at SCCA often have better outcomes than those who started treatment elsewhere.
  • A national leader in cancer care
    SCCA is the leading cancer treatment center in the region and among the top nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report. 
  • NCI comprehensive cancer center
    We are a comprehensive cancer center, a designation from the National Cancer Institute that reflects our scientific leadership and the depth and breadth of our research to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
  • NPF Center of Excellence
    SCCA has been nationally recognized as an approved National Pancreas Foundation Center of Excellence. NPF Centers are awarded after a rigorous audit review to determine that an institution effectively employs multidisciplinary treatment with a focus on the best possible outcomes and an improved quality of life.

National Pancreas Foundation Center of Excellence

 

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease. Pathologist A physician who has special training in identifying diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope. Radiation oncologist A physician who has special training in using radiation to treat cancer. Radiation therapy The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Radiologist A physician who has special training in creating and interpreting pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are made with X-rays, sound waves or other types of energy. Symptom A physical or mental problem that a person experiences that may indicate a disease or condition. Symptoms cannot be seen and do not show up on medical tests. A physical or mental problem that a person experiences that may indicate a disease or condition. Symptoms cannot be seen and do not show up on medical tests. Some examples of symptoms are headache, fatigue, nausea and pain. Targeted therapy A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. Some targeted therapies block the action of certain enzymes, proteins or other molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Other types of targeted therapies help the immune system kill cancer cells, or they deliver toxic substances directly to cancer cells and kill them. Targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than other types of cancer treatment. Most targeted therapies are either small molecule drugs or monoclonal antibodies. Treatment plan A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A treatment plan may also include information about how much the treatment is likely to cost and about regular follow-up care after treatment ends.
Second opinions

If you’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), we recommend getting a second opinion before starting treatment. 

Though you can benefit from a second opinion at any time, it is most valuable when you are first diagnosed and have the widest array of treatment options. For example, there might be a clinical trial that is right for you but is only open to people who haven't started treatment yet.

SCCA is home to the region’s only Pancreatic Cancer Specialty Clinic, where our medical, surgical and radiation oncologists and supportive care professionals meet weekly to discuss and care for people with pancreatic cancer as a team. During a single visit you get the second opinion of not one doctor but an entire group of specialists.

Based on your unique situation, we might schedule you with a single specialist who is best qualified to provide an opinion about your options — for example, if you have metastatic cancer and are already receiving treatment.

Talk with pancreatic cancer experts who understand your disease in greater depth than the general oncologists in your local community.

Call us at (855) 557-0555 to request an appointment for a second opinion.

How a second opinion can help

Getting a second opinion from doctors who specialize in pancreatic cancer can help you:

Feel confident that your cancer has been accurately diagnosed and staged

There are several types of pancreatic cancer, and evaluating the stage of these tumors can be complex. Pathologists, radiologists and gastroenterologists from SCCA are experts in diagnosing pancreatic cancers and have access to the latest technologies to help ensure we know as much about your cancer as possible.

Consider state-of-the-art treatment options

A second opinion may identify better, more advanced or more aggressive options, including minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopic surgery; the latest radiation therapies, including proton therapy; and clinical studies of new chemotherapies. 

Understand the benefits of specialized, multidisciplinary care

The team of pancreatic cancer specialists from SCCA offers in-depth understanding of the full spectrum of treatments. We have first-hand knowledge of current research and a wealth of treatment experience.

Start with a course of therapy tailored to you

We focus on you, not just your cancer, when developing a treatment plan. We consider your goals, plans, beliefs, values and preferences to design your treatment holistically.

Learn whether genetics play a role

Your genetic make-up may have played a role in the development of your cancer, and it might impact your treatment. Depending on our findings, you and your family may benefit from SCCA’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Program.

Learn More

Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease. Gastrointestinal Refers to the stomach and intestines. Also called GI. Laparoscopic surgery A surgery done with the aid of a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. Surgery done with the aid of a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. Metastatic A metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream. Pathologist A physician who has special training in identifying diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope. Radiologist A physician who has special training in creating and interpreting pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are made with X-rays, sound waves or other types of energy. Stage The extent of a cancer in the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes contain cancer and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body. Treatment plan A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A treatment plan may also include information about how much the treatment is likely to cost and about regular follow-up care after treatment ends.
Second opinions

If you’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we recommend getting a second opinion before starting treatment. 

Facts

Most of the time, “pancreatic cancer” means pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma — cancer that begins in the small tubes (ducts) inside the pancreas. A different type of cancer called a neuroendocrine tumor (NET) can also affect the pancreas. 

Adenocarcinoma Cancer that forms in the glandular tissue that lines certain internal organs and makes and releases substances in the body, such as mucus, digestive juices or other fluids.

Cancer that forms in the glandular tissue that lines certain internal organs and makes and releases substances in the body, such as mucus, digestive juices or other fluids. Most cancers of the breast, pancreas, lung, prostate, colon, esophagus and stomach are adenocarcinomas.

Treatment

SCCA experts offer comprehensive care for pancreatic cancer, including advanced treatments and new options available only through clinical studies.

Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease.

Providers

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes physicians, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.

Clinical trials

For some people, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Access to clinical trials by researchers at SCCA and our founding organizations Fred Hutch and UW Medicine is one reason many patients come to SCCA. 

Our scientists and physicians are conducting novel pancreatic cancer studies, and we're part of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Precision Promise Clinical Trials Consortium, designed to quickly and dramatically improve outcomes for the disease.

Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease.

Resources

There are many resources online for learning about your disease, as well as organizations that provide community and support for your cancer diagnosis. Health educators at the SCCA Patient and Family Resource Center have compiled a list of trusted sources to help you get started.