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What are complications of pancreatic cancer?

Dr. Jill K. Onesti, MD
Surgical Oncologist

Pancreatic cancer, particularly pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, is an aggressive form of cancer. When discovered early, the cancer can be removed by surgery -- the only chance for a cure. This may involve taking a portion of your pancreas as well as a portion of your small intestine and bile duct if the tumor is located in the head of your pancreas (on the right side). If the tumor is located in the body or the tail of the pancreas (on the left side), surgery involves taking a portion of your pancreas and your spleen. When surgery is not an option, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may help you feel better and live longer. New approaches and therapies are being evaluated daily, and it is important for you to discuss with your doctor which is right for you.

In pancreatic cancer, cancer cells in the pancreas grow and multiply quickly, which can cause a tumor to grow. The affect of this tumor on the body depends on where the tumor is, how far it has spread, and how large it is. If the tumor blocks the flow of bile, which is produced in the liver, jaundice (a yellowing of the skin) may occur. If the tumor blocks parts of the digestive system, problems such as nausea, vomiting, and other digestive problems, may result.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.