Pancreatic Cancer: What You Need to Know

August 2, 2019
Drs. Chia-Chi Wang and Nadeem Hussain

Did you know that 10 to 15 percent of all pancreatic cancer cases are due to genetics? This is why Dr. Nadeem Hussain, Middlesex Health’s chief of gastroenterology, says it is so important to know your risk.

Middlesex Health offers pancreatic cancer screenings to those who have a reasonable risk of pancreatic cancer based on their personal and family histories. In general, screenings often begin between ages 45 and 50, or 10 to 15 years younger than the youngest relative with pancreatic cancer.

Screenings include a contrast-enhanced MRI and possibly a secretin stimulation test. During a secretin stimulation test, a hormone is given to increase the secretion of juices within the pancreatic gland and enhance imaging. Together, these tools allow doctors to get detailed and reliable views of the pancreas.

The pancreas is located in the abdomen.

An endoscopic ultrasound can also be used to evaluate the pancreatic gland. This procedure involves passing an endoscope through the esophagus into the stomach and small intestine to visualize the pancreas and possibly obtain samples of fluid. It can complement the MRI and increase the odds of discovering and diagnosing lesions early.

In addition to viewing the actual organ, pancreatic cancer screenings can also involve input from a genetic counselor. Genetic counseling is available through the Middlesex Health Cancer Center.

Signs and symptoms

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in both males and females, and the average age at the time of diagnosis is 60. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • New onset of diabetes at a late age
  • Jaundice
  • Elevated liver enzymes

Treatment

If you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, treatment can vary and can include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. At the Middlesex Health Cancer Center, Dr. Chia-Chi Wang, a fellowship trained surgical oncologist, works in collaboration with gastroenterologists, geneticists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists and is committed to providing the best care. In addition to performing more traditional surgery, Dr. Wang also performs robotic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that results in smaller incisions, meaning less discomfort, less scarring and a faster recovery.

Learn more

To learn more about pancreatic cancer screenings, or to make an appointment, call 860-347-4620. You can also visit middlesexhealth.org/pancreatic-cancer.

Featured Physicians

Nadeem Hussain, MD

Nadeem Hussain, MD

Locations

  • Middletown, CT
    860-347-4620
Chia-Chi Wang, DO

Chia-Chi Wang, DO

Specialties

  • Breast Surgery
  • Colorectal Surgery
  • Gastric Cancer Surgery
  • General Surgery
  • Hepatobiliary Cancer Surgery
  • Melanoma Surgery

Locations

  • Middletown, CT
    860-358-2850
  • Westbrook, CT
    860-358-2850

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