Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer develops in the pancreas. It mainly affects people aged 50 to 80 years old. Half of the people who have pancreatic cancer are at least 75.

 

What is pancreatic cancer?

The pancreas is an organ found in the upper abdomen. It plays an important role in the digestive system, helping turn food into energy and producing insulin to keep blood sugar levels stable.
 

Causes of pancreatic cancer

The causes of pancreatic cancer are not yet fully understood. However, risk factors include:

  • Being very overweight
  • Eating processed meat
  • High alcohol consumption (leading to chronic pancreatitis)
  • Certain inherited diseases including Lynch or Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
  • Certain previous conditions including chronic pancreatitis, stomach ulcers, Helicobacter pylori infection and diabetes
  • Having two or more relatives who have previously had pancreatic cancer
  • Smoking – 1 in 3 cases are linked to cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobacco

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer don’t usually appear until quite late. This can make it difficult to diagnose. The earliest symptoms may include:

Back pain

Yellowing of the skin/eyes (jaundice)

Stomach pain

Unexplained weight loss

Extreme tiredness

Other symptoms may include:

Blood clots

Change in regular bowel movements (constipation or diarrhoea)

Feeling and/or being sick

High temperature and fever

Indigestion

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer but it’s best to ask your doctor for advice. The sooner your cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully.

Tests and diagnosis

After discussing your symptoms, your doctor will carry out a physical examination. They may suggest some of the following tests:

  • Blood tests, including tumour markers (ca19-9)
  • ERCP
  • MRCP
  • Scans including MRI, CT, ultrasound and endoscopic ultrasound
  • Laparoscopy

Treatments we offer

Treatments for pancreatic cancer depend on the stage of the cancer. They may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and palliative care.
 
 

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

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Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

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Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

Read more

Meet our doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Search for a centre near you

Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent, ME19 4UA

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Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton, West Midlands, Coldfield B74 3BF

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Nottingham

The Park Cancer Centre, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Notthingham, NG5 8RX

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Portsmouth

Portsmouth, Bartons Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 5NA

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Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3XL

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Southampton

Southampton Centre, Chalybeate Close (off Tremona Road), Southampton, SO16 6UY

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Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 7GU

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Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Elstree, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 3SZ

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Oxford

Sandy Lane West, Peters Way, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX4 6LB

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Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, BuckinghamShire, MK14 6LS

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Newmarket

The Oaks, Fordham Road, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7XN

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Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 3HD

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