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Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is located near the liver and the top part of the small intestine (duodenum). Pancreatic cancer can  develop throughout 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 into cancer. Some pancreatic tumors are "pre-cancerous" (pre-malignant), and may 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

Treatment options

Legacy offers a full range of treatments for pancreatic tumors. Treatment of pancreatic cancer is rapidly evolving. 

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 we offer:

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

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

Chemotherapy may be offered in collaboration with medical oncologists through the OHSU Knight-Legacy Health Cancer Collaborative

Integrative medicine services complement traditional cancer care. We offer many options from both Western and Eastern medicine to help improve your quality of life, both during and after treatment.

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.