Pancreatic cancer treatment in Denver

At HealthONE, we offer access to oncology specialists who are trained to accurately diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer. To ensure the most effective outcome for patients, we offer advanced treatments to provide patients with many options for healing.

For more information about cancer diagnosis, treatment and other services, call askSARAH at (303) 253-3225.

Comprehensive cancer care

At HealthONE hospitals, our patients benefit from an entire team of experts who work together to create their cancer care plan. Each case is brought to an interdisciplinary case conference in which experts from many different departments provide perspective on treatment and progress.

Our team of specialists includes:

  • Gastroenterologists
  • Hepatologists
  • Interventional radiologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Surgeons

Specialized pancreatic cancer center

Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Swedish Medical Center is home to the Center for Diseases of the Liver & Pancreas. This program brings together a team of experts dedicated to treating pancreatic cancer and other pancreatic conditions, such as ascites, pancreatitis and portal hypertension.

One of the Rocky Mountain region’s leading pancreatic care centers, the Center for Diseases of the Liver & Pancreas has earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for certification in pancreatic cancer care. We also have the distinction of being a designated a National Pancreas Foundation (NPF) Center. Both of these accolades demonstrate our clinical excellence and dedication to treating pancreatic diseases.

Our team has been known to detect certain cancers, including pancreatic cancer, at earlier stages than the state average. Additionally, our patient outcomes continue to be better than the state average.

For more information about Center for Diseases of the Liver & Pancreas at Swedish Medical Center, call (303) 788-3478.

What causes pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer occurs when the DNA in the cells of your pancreas change, making the cells behave abnormally. This abnormal behavior usually makes the cells in your pancreas grow uncontrollably, resulting in a tumor.

It’s not exactly clear what causes pancreatic cancer. However, there are some factors that may increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

These may include:

  • Certain genetic mutations
  • Chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Smoking

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Unfortunately, there are no early warning signs of pancreatic cancer. Most symptoms do not occur until the disease is at an advanced stage.

Some symptoms may include:

  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Light-colored stools
  • Loss of appetite or unusual weight loss
  • Unusual abdominal pain
  • Yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice)

Diagnosing pancreatic cancer

We use several different methods to reach a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, including diagnostic imaging tests and minimally invasive exams. These may include:

  • Angiogram
  • Biopsy
  • Blood tests
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Laparoscopy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasound

Pancreatic cancer treatment

Our pancreatic experts use advanced treatment options for pancreatic cancer, including surgical treatment, radiation oncology and chemotherapy treatment.

Specialized pancreatic cancer treatments we provide include:

Arterial embolization

This technique is used to target tumors more directly from the inside of the pancreas. It is performed by injecting a safe substance into the body that decreases blood flow to cancer cells in the pancreas. This is done with the intention that the decreased blood flow will kill the cancerous cells.

Distal pancreatectomy

A distal pancreatectomy is performed if a tumor is located within the body or tail portion of the pancreas. The surgeon removes half of the pancreas where the tumor is located, preserving the head of the pancreas and as much healthy tissue as possible.

Sometimes, the spleen is also removed during this procedure because it is located so close to the tail of the pancreas. When possible, we use minimally invasive techniques to perform this procedure.

Irreversible electroporation

An advanced treatment option, minimally invasive irreversible electroporation surgery, is performed to destroy cancerous tumors without the need for high heat or extreme cold. By not using extreme temperatures during treatment, no harm will be done to surrounding bodily structures.

Guided by CT or ultrasound imaging, irreversible electroporation is performed by placing two or more fine-needle electrodes around the tumor. The electrodes deliver a series of high-voltage, low-energy currents to kill the cancer cells.

Patients benefit from this treatment by typically having less pain and scarring as well as shorter recovery times. This procedure gives an alternative option for patients who are may not be able to have open surgery.

Whipple procedure

The Whipple procedure, also known as pancreatoduodenectomy, is often used to treat cancer contained to the pancreas. During the Whipple procedure, a specialized physician removes the head of the pancreas, part of the bile duct, part of the stomach and the gallbladder. Then, the surgeon reconnects the remaining intestine, bile duct, pancreas and stomach so the body can continue to digest food and expel waste.

About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute

As part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, our family of hospitals provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally trusted care with the support of a globally recognized network.

askSARAH helpline

Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially trained nurses are available 24/7 and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (303) 253-3225 or chat online at askSARAHnow.