Pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant cells start to develop in the tissue of the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ in the body which is responsible for the production of insulin, used to control glucose levels in the blood stream, and digestive enzymes which are released into the small intestine. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth highest cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States.
Pancreatic cancer is usually a very aggressive malignancy as it can quickly spread to nearby organs. Another issue that makes this cancer problematic is that it seldom causes symptoms, and by the time the cancer is found, there’s already extensive damage done. This is especially true if the cancer involves the tail of the pancreas.
If the cancer affects the head of the pancreas then signs and symptoms such as jaundice (due to obstruction of the bile ducts) and right upper quadrant abdominal pain may help discover the diagnosis earlier.
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Most of the top hospital centers offering treatment for pancreatic cancer are located in the Northcentral and Northeastern areas of the United States. These hospitals offer impressive facilities and expertise and may be known to many patients already. We shall mention these centers as well as some of the best doctors who specialize in managing pancreatic cancer.
New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY: New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center has a specific division known as the Pancreas Center where patients with pancreatic cancer are managed. The patients managed at this center have access to specialist doctors such as interventional and diagnostic gastroenterologists, surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, geneticists, nurse practitioners, nutritionists and genetic counselors. These staff members incorporate a multidisciplinary approach in order to diagnose, manage and treat patients. The Pancreas Center is at the forefront of risk stratification, surgical procedures, imaging techniques, screening, genetics, and early detection of pancreatic disorder. The center is also involved in clinical research, discovering preventive measures and educating patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The mission of the Pancreas Center is to be a center of excellence which is dedicated to decreasing the burden of pancreatic cancer. Since pancreatic diseases are complex conditions, the multidisciplinary team at the Pancreas Center gathers every Thursday morning to collaborate on current patient cases. Important and relevant portions of patients’ medical histories and current symptoms are presented along with current and past imaging investigations. The aim of this multidisciplinary team is to help ensure the best possible outcome for all patients. Some of the top specialists identified for managing pancreatic cancer include Dr John A Chabot, Dr Peter J Allen, Dr Tamas A Gonda, Dr Robert L Fine and Dr Amrita Sethi.
The John Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD: At John Hopkins Hospital, the Pancreas Multidisciplinary Cancer Clinic is part of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. The aim of the center is to afford high quality of care to patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. At the Pancreas Multidisciplinary Cancer Clinic, patients with suspected or already diagnosed pancreatic cancer are assessed. The clinic is dedicated to performing comprehensive patient evaluations over a single day. This incorporates all the assets available for the diagnosis, management, research and education of pancreatic cancer by some of the highly renowned specialists and clinicians in the United States who are trained in managing pancreatic cancer. Diagnosing pancreatic cancer can be overwhelming and stressful for the affected patient, therefore the staff of the Pancreas Multidisciplinary Cancer Clinic are devoted to assisting patients, their families and caregivers. The specialists involved at this cancer clinic include Dr John L Cameron, Dr Christopher L Wolfgang, Dr Matthew J Weiss, Dr Michael G Goggins and Dr Marcia I Canto.
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA: This hospital has the Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer which offers a caring and collaborative approach diagnosing and treating patients with suspected or confirmed pancreatic cancer. The center is regulaly ranked as one of the best in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, and the National Pancreas Foundation (NPF) has recognized the hospital as an NPF Pancreatic Cancer Center. This is an important recognition given to prime healthcare facilities that focus on the multidisciplinary treatment of pancreatic cancer and improving the quality of life for patients. The center also has one of the largest and most accomplished pancreatic cancer surgery teams in the United States, where the specialist’s expertises include performing pancreatic operations, such as the Whipple procedure, and minimally-invasive surgery for pancreatic cancer. The centre also boasts expeditious diagnosing and staging of all tumors biopsied for further investigation within 36 hours at the latest. The pathologists at the center are internationally recognized sub-specialists in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. They take part in weekly collaborative meetings, where information is shared with the entire team regarding each patient’s condition so that the appropriate management can be initiated. The diagnostic radiology specialists are recognized on a national level for their experience in using the most progressive imaging devices to discover tumor changes and to diagnose and stage pancreatic cancer. The center’s team of radiation oncologists offer a variety of innovative radiation treatments to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Specialists who are involved at this centre include Dr William R Brugge, Dr Carlos Fernandez Del Castillo, Dr David G Forcione, Dr Brenna W Casey and Dr Cristina R Ferrone.
Mayo Clinic Rochester, Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic in Rochester is ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Specialists and clinicians at Mayo Clinic provide comprehensive and collaborative care for people with pancreatic cancer. The staff members may include specialists in gastroenterology, surgery, radiology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, pathology and nutrition. This multidisciplinary approach makes sure that patients benefit from the experience of these specialists. A full range of supportive care, which includes palliative care and integrative medicine, is also available. Pancreatic cancer patients at Mayo Clinic have access to innovative radiologic imaging and other diagnostic tools. When the diagnosis of pancreas cancer is confirmed, the involved doctor will review treatment options and help the patient choose the treatment that best suits their needs and goals. The treatment options may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery or a combination of these. Specialists involved with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester who are trained in managing pancreatic cancer include Dr Michael J Levy, Dr Michael B Farnell, Dr Mark D Topazian, Dr Robert R Mcwilliams and Dr Suresh T Chari.