Pancreatic Cancer

About Pancreatic Cancer

At Penn Medicine, patients with pancreatic cancer receive their care from a multidisciplinary team of nationally recognized experts in the diagnosis, treatment and research of gastrointestinal cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is cancer that develops within the pancreas, the gland about six inches long that is responsible for making hormones, including the enzymes responsible for the digestion of food and control of blood sugar.

Pancreatic cancer develops when cells within the pancreas begin to grow out of control. It may spread, or metastasize, to nearby lymph nodes and organs such as the liver and lungs.

The pancreas has three sections:

  • Head: Part of the pancreas adjacent to the small bowel and liver ducts
  • Body: Middle of the pancreas
  • Tail: End of the pancreas near the spleen

About 90 percent or more of pancreatic cancer develops in the head of the pancreas.

Penn Medicine's multidisciplinary approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment provides better outcomes and gives patients access to the most advanced treatment, surgical techniques and clinical trials.

Because navigating a new cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them simplify entry into Penn and make an appointment with the right physician.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN (7366).

Pancreatic Cancer Risk and Prevention

Pancreatic Cancer Risk and Prevention

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors affect the chance of developing pancreatic cancer. Having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that someone will get cancer.

There are different kinds of risk factors, and many people with risk factors never develop pancreatic cancer. Risk factors for pancreatic cancer may include:

  • Smoking. Smoking tobacco is generally the single largest risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
  • Diabetes. People with long-standing diabetes are at a higher risk for pancreatic cancer.
  • Family history. Having a family member with pancreatic cancer or other hereditary conditions may increase the risk of developing the disease. Also, a family member with breast or colon cancer may increase someone's risk. Penn’s risk evaluation programs can help people determine their risk of developing cancer.
  • Inflammation of the pancreas. People who have chronic pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, for a long period of time may be at an increased. risk. Inflammation is often linked to smoking and excessive use of alcohol.
  • Obesity. Studies show people who are overweight or obese may be at an increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer.
  • Age. Most people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are over age 65.

Pancreatic Cancer Prevention

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Assessment

The Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Penn Medicine offers knowledge about the presence of genetic risk factors for pancreatic cancer and provides patients with important, sometimes life-saving options.

Patients at increased risk for pancreatic cancer, or those who have a family history of pancreatic, colon or breast cancer, may benefit from meeting with a cancer risk assessment counselor.

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Types of Pancreatic Cancer

Types of Pancreatic Cancer

All types of pancreatic cancer begin when abnormal cells grow out of control in the pancreas. Most pancreas cancers develop in the head of the pancreas.

Pancreatic cancer tumors may also be classified into two groups:

  • Exocrine pancreatic tumors
  • Endocrine pancreatic tumors

Exocrine Pancreatic Tumors

Exocrine pancreatic tumors begin in the exocrine cells. The exocrine cells are responsible for secreting enzymes that aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients. About 95 percent of pancreatic cancers are classified as exocrine.

Endocrine Pancreatic Tumors

Endocrine pancreatic tumors are very rare and account for about 5 percent of pancreatic cancer. Also called neuroendocrine tumors, these tumors begin in the endocrine cells, which in some cases are responsible for producing hormones, including those that control blood sugar.

Endocrine pancreatic tumors may be classified as non-functioning or functioning. Functioning tumors secrete hormones and non-functioning tumors do not.

Learn more about endocrine pancreatic tumors (neuroendocrine tumors).

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Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Because the early stages of pancreatic cancer do not cause symptoms, pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage, when treatment options are limited.

During the later stages of pancreatic cancer, the follow symptoms may be present:

  • Dark urine, pale stools and jaundice (skin and whites of eyes have a yellowish tint)
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Loss of appetite, or feeling of fullness
  • Pain in the upper area of the stomach and back
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the middle of the back that doesn’t go away
  • Depression

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Staging Pancreatic Cancer

Staging Pancreatic Cancer

Staging systems provide doctors with a common language for describing tumors. After cancer is first diagnosed, a series of tests are used to investigate the extent of the cancer and to see whether it has spread to other parts of the body from where it started. Staging is a way of recording the size and growth of a cancer, and determining the plan for treatment. By understanding the stage of their cancer, patients can make informed decisions about their treatment.

Staging pancreatic cancer attempts to discover the following:

  • The size of the pancreatic tumor.
  • Whether the tumor has spread to nearby tissues.
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

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Pancreatic Cancer Treatment at Penn

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment at Penn

After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, patients at the Abramson Cancer Center may be evaluated through the Gastrointestinal Cancer Evaluation Center (GICEC). The center provides patients with expert support and evaluation to discuss treatment options and individualized treatment plans.

ADAM Images

Patients with pancreatic cancer are treated by a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists who see more patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancers in one year than many doctors see in their careers.

Cancer specialists in the Abramson Cancer Center's gastrointestinal cancer program are nationally recognized for their expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Penn’s GI cancer treatment team includes:

  • Nationally recognized medical experts with years of experience in diagnosing and treating GI cancer.
  • Nurses with advanced training and experience in gastrointestinal cancer.
  • Oncology Navigation Specialists to help patients navigate the health system.
  • Registered dietitians to provide nutrition counseling.
  • Cancer counselors to provide individual or family counseling for issues many cancer patients face.
  • Rehabilitation therapists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of physical effects from cancer and its treatment.

Patients at Penn Medicine can benefit from participating in clinical trials that take place at Penn. Patients interested in learning more about clinical trials should speak with someone on their treatment team.

Oncology Navigation Specialists

Every step of cancer treatment – from a cancer diagnosis, to surgery and treatment to forming a survivorship plan – comes with different needs and issues that should be addressed.

Oncology Navigation Specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center are available to make a patient’s experience as seamless as possible. As experts in navigating complex health care situations, patient support specialists serve as a consistent point of contact and a reliable source for advice, support and direction for patients and families. They can help in a variety of ways including; provide emotional support, identify resources, and ensure access to information, support services, educational programs and community resources.

Learn more about Patient Navigation specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center.

Penn Pancreatic and Biliary Center

Patients at Penn Medicine with pancreatic cancer also benefit from the Penn Pancreatic and Biliary Center, one of the busiest pancreatic surgery programs in the United States.

Studies have shown successful treatment of pancreatic cancer requires accurate diagnosis and cancer surgeons who are experienced in complex pancreatic surgeries. The center combines that expertise with leading-edge research and technology, giving patients at Penn Medicine a better chance for positive outcomes.

The pancreatic cancer team is nationally recognized for its specialized techniques in treating pancreatic cancer, and is part of the multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center.

Learn more about the Penn Pancreatic and Biliary Center.  

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Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer

An accurate cancer diagnosis from trusted cancer specialists is the first step in getting personalized treatment options to treat pancreatic cancer.

Patients who choose Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, benefit from a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists including gastroenterologists, radiologists, pathologists and surgeons who work together to provide both a diagnosis and treatment plan individualized for each patient with pancreatic cancer.

Cancer specialists at Penn Medicine are highly experienced in using the most advanced techniques for diagnosing pancreatic cancer and are actively researching better and more precise ways to detect pancreatic cancer.

Because an accurate diagnosis is an important step in planning cancer treatment, it's important patients know that when they come to Penn Medicine, they are taking an important step in getting the best cancer treatment.

Navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the right person. Penn Medicine's contact center has experienced cancer nurses available and ready to guide patients in finding the cancer specialist right for them.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN (7366).

Screening for Pancreatic Cancer

Screening for Pancreatic Cancer

Currently, for the general population there are no recommended screening tests for pancreatic cancer, like mammograms for breast cancer or colonoscopies for colonic growths. For patients at high risk, such as those who have family members with pancreatic, breast or colon cancer, an assessment of the risk and screening should be considered.

The cancer risk evaluation programs at Penn Medicine can help patients determine if screening tests and possibly genetic testing may be needed.

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Diagnostic Tools for Pancreatic Cancer

Diagnostic Tools for Pancreatic Cancer

When physicians suspect pancreatic cancer, they may order several tests to make a diagnosis.

  • Physical exam. Physicians may feel the abdominal area to check for changes near the pancreas, or fluid buildup. They may also examine the skin for jaundice.
  • Blood tests. Blood tests may be ordered to look for antigens in the blood specifically created by pancreatic tumors.
  • Imaging tests. Pictures of the inside of the body can help find out whether a suspicious area might be cancerous, to learn how far cancer may have spread, and to help determine if treatment is working.
    • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). A thin, lighted tube is passed through to the small intestine, while ultrasound waves image tissue in the pancreas and other organs. Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies of the pancreas are commonly obtained this way. EUS combines the flexibility of an endoscope with the high resolution of an ultrasound and helps with staging. Penn’s EUS program has one of the largest patient volumes in the country and onsite rapid cytopathology interpretation is provided.
    • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). An endoscope may be used in selected patients to examine the liver and pancreatic ducts and to obtain biopsies. Dye is injected to produce the images.
    • Computed tomography (CT). A CT scan creates a 3D X-ray of the inside of the body. A computer combines the images into a detailed, cross-sectional view that shows any abnormalities or tumors. Sometimes, a contrast medium (dye) is used to provide better detail.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Magnetic fields are used to create detailed images of the body. A contrast medium may be injected into a vein to create a clearer picture.
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan. A PET scan is a way to create pictures of organs and tissues inside the body. A small amount of a radioactive substance is injected into the body. The tumor absorbs the radioactive substance at a different rate than normal cells, and a scanner detects this substance to produce images.
  • Needle biopsy. A thin needle is used to remove a small sample of the pancreas or surrounding tissue.

Patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer may find this new patient information helpful.

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Staging Pancreatic Cancer

Staging Pancreatic Cancer

Staging systems provide doctors with a common language for describing tumors. After cancer is first diagnosed, a series of tests are used to investigate the extent of the cancer and to see whether it has spread to other parts of the body from where it started. Staging is a way of uniformly describing the size and location as well as aiding in determining the plan for treatment. By understanding the stage of their cancer, patients can make informed decisions about their treatment.

When pancreatic cancer spreads, cancer cells may be found in nearby lymph nodes or the liver. When cancer spreads to another part of the body, this is called metastatic pancreatic cancer. The spread may be local (lymph nodes) or distant (liver or other organs).

The “staging diagnosis” depends on the type of cancer and the staging system the doctor is using, but in general there are four stages of pancreatic cancer:

  • Stage I. The cancer is relatively small and completely contained within the pancreas.
    • Stage IA. Tumor is 2 cm or less
    • Stage IB. Tumor is larger than 2 cm.
  • Stage II. The tumor has invaded tissue adjacent to the pancreas. Cancer may have spread to lymph nodes.
    • Stage IIA. Tumor has spread to nearby tissues and organs, but not lymph nodes.
    • Stage IIB. Tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes and may have spread to nearby tissues and organs.
  • Stage III. The tumor has invaded nearby blood vessels, and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV. The cancer has spread (metastasized) from where it started to other distant organs, such as the liver, lungs and peritoneal cavity.

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Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

Following the diagnosis and staging of pancreatic cancer, cancer specialists at Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center develop a personalized treatment plan. Penn's treatment options for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Surgery
    • Whipple procedure
    • Pylorus-sparing Whipple
    • Total pancreatectomy
    • Distal pancreatectomy
    • Enucleation (for certain rare types of cancer)
  • Palliative surgery
    • Surgical biliary drainage
    • Endoscopic stent placement for bilary drainage
    • Endonsocoic stent placement for gastric outlet obstuction
    • Surgical gastrojejunostomy
  • Radiation therapy
    • Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy
    • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
    • Proton therapy
    • Volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT)
  • Chemotherapy and biologic therapies
    • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
  • Clinical trials
  • Other treatments
    • Integrative medicine and wellness
    • Palliative care
    • Penn Home Care and Hospice

Because navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the correct cancer specialist.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN.

Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

Surgery for pancreatic cancer offers the only possibility for a cure. Surgeons at Penn Medicine perform the highest volume of pancreatic procedures in the Philadelphia region, and are among the top 10 in the United States. The surgical expertise and experience of Penn’s cancer specialists combined with its multidisciplinary clinical care is backed by leading-edge research that is applied to patients, and can be leveraged in developing new treatments for patients.

Whipple procedure

A Whipple procedure, or pancreatic duodenectomy, is a common procedure in which the gallbladder, common bile duct, part of the duodenum, and the head of the pancreas are removed. Portions of the body and tail pancreas are left to continue to produce bile and digestive enzymes. Studies have confirmed that low complication rates for the procedure are linked to the experience of the surgeon and the multidisciplinary team caring for the patient after surgery.

Pylorus-sparing Whipple procedure

The pylorus sparing Whipple is a modified version of the conventional Whipple where the bottom portion of the stomach or pylorus is not removed.

Total pancreatectomy

Removal of the whole pancreas, part of the stomach, part of the small intestine, the common bile duct, gallbladder, spleen and nearby lymph nodes.

Distal pancreatectomy

Surgeons remove the body and the tail of the pancreas.

Enucleation

A pancreas sparing procedure, during enucleation just the tumor is removed leaving the pancreas in place.

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Palliative Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

Palliative Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

If pancreatic cancer has distant spread or cannot be removed, the following procedures may be done to relieve symptoms. These types of procedures do not have cure cancer.

Surgical biliary drainage

If a tumor is blocking the bile duct, a biliary drainage procedure may be performed. In this procedure, the gallbladder or bile duct is drained and may be rerouted directly to the small intestine to create a new pathway around the blockage.

Endoscopic stent placement

If the tumor is blocking the bile duct, a stent may be placed during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to drain bile that has backed-up in the liver.

Gastric drainage

Gastric surgery may be used if a tumor is blocking the flow of food from the stomach. This procedure alters the digestive track by creating an alternative drainage route from the stomach.

Endoscopic stent placement for gastric outlet obstruction

If the tumor is blocking the bile duct, a stent may be placed to drain bile that has backed-up in the liver.

Surgical gastrojejunostomy

Surgeons create an opening in the stomach to connect it to the upper portion of the small bowel, or small intestine, so that a tube placed in the opening delivers medications and nutritional liquids directly into the stomach.

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Radiation Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

Radiation Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

Radiation oncologists at Penn Medicine are recognized for techniques that target radiation precisely to the disease site while sparing nearby tissue. As national leaders in radiation therapy, they are experts in the use of the latest therapies to treat cancer.

Proton therapy at Penn Medicine is now being used to treat upper gastrointestinal cancers and recurrent tumors in the digestive tract. Penn Medicine is one of the only facilities in the country treating gastrointestinal cancers in this way.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. A radiation therapy schedule usually consists of a specific number of treatments given over an extended period of time. In many cases, radiation therapy is capable of killing all of the cancer cells. Radiation oncologists at Penn Medicine use both internal and external forms of radiation therapy to treat cancer.

Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy

Imaging technology used by radiation oncologists at Penn Medicine help shape the radiation treatment beam to the shape of the tumor. Conformal radiation therapy gives doctors more control when treating tumors.

Special computers use CT imaging scans to create 3-D maps of the location of the cancer in the body. The system permits the delivery of radiation from several directions, and the beams can then be shaped, or conformed, to match the shape of the cancer. Conformal radiation therapy limits radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissue as well as the tissue in the beam's path.

Intensity-modulated radiation treatment (IMRT)

This advanced type of radiotherapy uses a computer-controlled device, called a linear accelerator, to deliver precise doses of radiation to tumors or specific areas within the tumors. Radiation therapy, including IMRT, stops cancer cells from dividing and growing, thus slowing or stopping tumor growth. In many cases, radiation therapy is capable of killing all of the cancer cells.

Using 4-D computed tomography (CT) images along with computerized dose calculations, IMRT allows for the radiation dose to conform more precisely to the shape of the tumor by controlling, or modulating, the intensity of the radiation beam while tracking any movement of the tumor. The therapy allows higher radiation doses to be delivered to areas within the tumor while minimizing the dose to the surrounding area.

Volumetric-modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT)

Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) is a type of specialized intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT. VMAT delivers radiation by rotating the radiation machine, through one or more arcs while radiation is continuously delivered.

VMAT allows Penn radiation oncologists to treat complex cancers while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. VMAT shortens radiation delivery time, and offers patient more comfort because it does not require patients to lie completely still for long periods of time.

Penn radiation oncologists use RapidArcâ„¢ radiotherapy technology to treat hard to reach tumors.

Proton therapy

Penn Medicine is the only health care facility in the country that is using proton therapy to treat recurrent gastrointestinal tumors and tumors in the upper digestive tract in clinical trials.

Penn Medicine's Roberts Proton Therapy Center is the largest and most advanced facility in the world for this precise form of cancer radiation. Patients have access to one of the most sophisticated weapons against cancer, seamlessly integrated with the full range of oncology services available at the Abramson Cancer Center. Proton therapy is external beam radiotherapy in which protons are directed at a tumor.

The radiation dose that is given through protons is very precise, and limits the exposure of normal tissues. This allows the radiation dose delivered to the tumor to be increased beyond conventional radiation. The result is a better chance for curing cancer with fewer harmful side effects.

Proton therapy, like all forms of radiation therapy, works by aiming the energized particles, in this case protons, onto the target tumor. The particles damage the DNA of cells, ultimately causing their death. Unlike X-rays, protons can be manipulated to release most of their energy only when they reach their target. With more energy reaching the cancerous cells, more damage is administered by each burst of radiation.

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Chemotherapy and Biologic Therapies for Pancreatic Cancer

Chemotherapy and Biologic Therapies for Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer specialists at Penn Medicine specialize in a team approach to treatment with interdisciplinary care and innovative approaches that use chemotherapy to target tumors prior to and after surgery. Medical oncologists, cancer specialists who treat patients with chemotherapy, are part of a multidisciplinary cancer treatment team that approaches cancer care by treating the whole patient with personalized medicine. New biologics and immunoimodulatory therapies are undergoing trials at Penn.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is delivered through the bloodstream, targeting cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy is usually delivered intravenously through a catheter, or orally by pill.

Biologic therapy

Biologic therapy, also called targeted therapy, uses the patients' own immune system to target cancer cells. Substances made by the body or in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer, and are delivered orally by pill or intravenously.  This type of cancer treatment is also called immunotherapy.

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Clinical Trials for Pancreatic Cancer

Clinical Trials for Pancreatic Cancer

Today, more and more people are surviving cancer. Clinical trials benefit patients with access to breakthrough therapies and treatments. Patients at the Penn Medicine have a unique opportunity: to experience these new advances in cancer treatment. These advances in cancer treatment are occurring every day at Penn Medicine, giving patients hope that even greater discoveries lie ahead. Through clinical trials:

  • Diagnosing cancer has become more precise.
  • Radiation and surgical techniques have advanced.
  • Medications are more successful.
  • Combinations of medical, surgical and radiation therapy are improving treatment effectiveness and enhancing outcomes.
  • Strategies to address the late effects of cancer and its treatment are improving quality of life.

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Other Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer

Other Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer

In addition to standard treatments and clinical trials, patients at Penn Medicine may wish to add additional therapies and treatments such as massage therapy, acupuncture and art therapy. These therapies do not have curative intent, and are designed to complement standard treatments, not take their place.

Integrative Medicine and Wellness Programs

At Penn Medicine, integrative medicine and wellness services can supplement traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. While conventional medicine plays a critical role in eradicating cancer, integrative medicine and wellness programs offer patients and their families ways to enhance the quality of their lives, minimize or reduce the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment, and promote healing and recovery.

Cancer specialists at Penn Medicine are knowledgeable and supportive of complementary cancer treatments. The cancer team works with patients and families to integrate these supportive programs into the overall care plan, while ensuring the safety and health of patients.

The Abramson Cancer Center’s range of integrative supportive services is designed to help patients cope with the cancer experience and improve their overall sense of well-being. These services include social work counseling, nutrition counseling, psychological counseling and spiritual counseling. Services include:

The Cancer Appetite and Rehabilitation Clinic focuses on patients with loss of appetite and weight.

The Supportive Care Clinic helps to manage cancer related symptoms. Integrative support programs include:

The Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital at Pennsylvania Hospital also offers a variety of supportive care programs for patients and families, from diagnosis through survivorship. These programs are available at no cost to the patients treated at Pennsylvania Hospital, and some are open to patients treated elsewhere. These services include social work counseling, nutrition counseling, psychological counseling and spiritual counseling.

Support groups and educational programs are available at Pennsylvania Hospital throughout the year.

Palliative Care

Palliative care provides medical and non-medical interventions to ease the symptoms of cancer and its treatment. Palliative care includes physical, emotional and spiritual care that can enhance the quality of life for cancer patients.

Palliative care can be used to complement traditional cancer therapies, or to improve quality of life when curative therapies are no longer an option.

Palliative care is an approach to patient care that can be integrated with curative therapies at any point from diagnosis to survivorship or end-of-life care.

Palliative care services include palliative chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery as well as psychological counseling, art therapy and support groups for patients and families. The goals of palliative care are to enhance the quality of life for cancer patients and their families, and provide emotional and spiritual support to enhance personal growth.

Palliative care services are offered at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania Hospital, and at Penn at Rittenhouse.

Penn Home Care and Hospice Services

Penn Home Care and Hospice Services offer a full range of home health care needs by partnering three top-level home health care services under one roof:

Penn Home Care and Hospice Services offer an array of specialized therapies and medications for patients with cancer and cancer-related conditions.

Oncology Navigation Specialists

Every step of cancer treatment; from a cancer diagnosis, to surgery and treatment to forming a survivorship plan; comes with different needs and issues that should be addressed.

Oncology Navigation Specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center are available to make a patient’s experience as seamless as possible. As experts in navigating complex health care situations, patient support specialists serve as a consistent point of contact and a reliable source for advice, support and direction for patients and families. They can help in a variety of ways including; provide emotional support, identify resources, and ensure access to information, support services, educational programs and community resources.

Learn more about Patient Navigation specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center.

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Pancreatic Cancer Survivorship

Survivorship programs at Penn Medicine are a distinct phase of pancreatic cancer care and are designed to help patients' transition from their cancer treatment routine to a post-cancer care lifestyle. There are more than 12 million cancer survivors living and thriving today as a result of advances in cancer treatment. However, cancer treatments can result in physical, emotional and financial complications long after the therapy is complete.

Personalized Survivorship Care

Personalized Survivorship Care

At the end of treatment, pancreatic cancer patients should schedule a survivorship visit with their oncologist and nurse practitioner. At this time, patients are provided with a summary of the treatment received as well as a plan for follow-up care.

Penn cancer providers work one-on-one with patients to develop survivorship care plans. Since every cancer is unique, the plans are tailored to the patients. 

The survivorship care plan includes information on:

  • Potential long-term or late side effects of cancer treatment, the symptoms and treatment.
  • Recommendations for cancer screening for disease recurrence or a new cancer.
  • Psychosocial effects, including concerns with relationships and sexuality.
  • Planning follow-up visits and surveillance.

Survivorship care plans encourage patients to review the information with their health care team and become active participants in their follow-up care.

Penn also offers pancreatic cancer patients a number of support programs and groups to enhance their survivorship care plans.

Oncology Navigation Specialists

Every step of cancer treatment – from a cancer diagnosis, to surgery and treatment to forming a survivorship plan – comes with different needs and issues that should be addressed.

Oncology Navigation Specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center are available to make a patient’s experience as seamless as possible. As experts in navigating complex health care situations, patient support specialists serve as a consistent point of contact and a reliable source for advice, support and direction for patients and families. They can help in a variety of ways including; provide emotional support, identify resources, and ensure access to information, support services, educational programs and community resources.

Learn more about patient navigation specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center.

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Survivorship Programs at Penn Medicine

Survivorship Programs at Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine’s Living Well After Cancer™ Program is a nationally recognized program that focuses on issues facing cancer survivors. In 2007, the Abramson Cancer Center was designated a LIVESTRONG™ Survivorship Center of Excellence Network.  The Abramson Cancer Center is only one of eight LIVESTRONG centers in the United States, and is the only LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence in the Philadelphia region. The program focuses on survivorship, a distinct phase of care.

Prescription for Living: The Cancer Survivorship Program at the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, provides patients with a summary of important information about specific cancer diagnoses and treatments, as well as follow-up information and steps to take towards recovery, supportive care and education to help patients adjust to their lives as cancer survivors.

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Continued Support

Continued Support

Penn offers cancer patients support programs and groups to enhance their survivorship care plans.

The Abramson Cancer Center and Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital at Pennsylvania Hospital provide materials and host a wide range of activities that provide education and support to address key areas of concern including survivorship for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Focus On: Gastrointestinal Cancers is a day-long conference for patients and their loved ones that addresses issues surrounding gastrointestinal cancers.

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Survivor Stories

Suzi F. Garber

Suzi F. Garber, of Reading, PA., a neuroendocrine tumor patient at the Abramson Cancer Center, writes about her experience so that others might benefit from her story and become proactive advocates for themselves and their loved ones.

For many years, I had been misdiagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome. After I wound up in the emergency ward in intense pain, I had a battery of tests -- I had an ileal bowel obstruction. An octreotide scan showed spots in my liver which was subsequently biopsied and were positive for carcinoid cancer, Stage IV. I had been diagnosed with a rare cancer that both had metastasized and was inoperable at the time.




Spotlight

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