Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer

The pancreas is located near the liver and the top part of the small intestine (duodenum). Pancreatic cancer can  develop throughout of the pancreas and may spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, liver, lungs or abdomen. Some pancreatic tumors are not cancer (benign), and need to be watched carefully over time for signs they may be turning to cancer. Some pancreatic tumors are "pre-cancerous" (pre-malignant), and usually need to be surgically removed.


Diagnosing pancreatic cancer may be difficult; symptoms are usually not obvious. To evaluate and diagnose pancreatic tumors, Legacy offers a multidisciplinary approach with these elements:

  • CT scan, PET scan, MRCP (an MRI focused on the pancreas)
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), also used to screen high-risk patients

Comprehensive, coordinated care

Our Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer Program at Legacy Good Samaritan provides multidisciplinary expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic tumors.

Treatment options

Legacy offers a full range of treatments for pancreatic tumors. Treatment of pancreatic cancer is rapidly evolving. Our pancreatic cancer specialist, R. Serene Perkins, M.D, welcomes patients with pancreatic cancer to discuss treatment goals and options.:

Surgery is an option for more patients than ever before, especially when diagnosed early. Legacy offers conventional and laparoscopic options for pancreatic resection (surgery). Surgery is used to remove part or all of the pancreas. Among the surgeries:

  • Distal pancreatectomy 
  • Total pancreatectomy
  • Whipple (also called pancreaticoduodenectomy, or pancreas head resection)

For pancreatic tumors that cannot be removed surgically, other procedures may be done to reduce symptoms and blockages in the patient. These procedures include a bypass procedure or the placement of a stent.

Radiation therapy may be offered to treat tumors in the pancreas.

Chemotherapy can be provided in collaboration with medical oncologists in the community. Legacy Cancer Institute has oncology-trained nurses who provide care on the Cancer Care Unit at Good Samaritan, in nursing units at other Legacy hospitals, and in our outpatient infusion clinics.

Support services

Living with a diagnosis of cancer and its treatment can have a profound effect on your functional, emotional, social and spiritual needs. That's why we offer a wide range of support services to help you and your family achieve the highest quality of life possible.