Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a fast-growing cancer that originates just behind the stomach in the pancreas. The pancreas is a small organ that produces substances called enzymes and hormones, which help the body digest food and control the amount of sugar in the blood. There are two types of pancreatic cancer tumors: pancreatic adenocarcinoma tumors and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. The treatment for each type varies. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma tumors are much more common; nearly 54,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with them each year, or about 1 in every 62 adults. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are less common, but they are being seen more often in recent times. Treating pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors is a complex process, but it in some cases it can be cured. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-deadliest cancer because of the way it silently spreads before being detected.



Patients who choose UAB Medicine for their gastrointestinal (GI) cancer care benefit from our experienced specialists, the most advanced technology, and – in some cases – medications and other treatments being evaluated in clinical research trials that are not available at other medical centers. These resources are combined through our Pancreatobiliary Disease Center, which provides cutting-edge care for pancreatic, bile duct, and gallbladder cancers; pancreatic cysts; pancreatitis; bile duct injuries; and complex benign (non-cancerous) diseases of the pancreas and bile duct. UAB Medicine is well-equipped to diagnose and manage pancreatobiliary disorders or consult with the patient’s current providers as part of an ongoing care plan.

Care is provided by an outstanding team that includes surgeons, diagnostic and interventional radiologists, medical and radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, critical care intensivists, nurses, genetic counselors, and other specialists. Our standard of care begins with a timely and thorough initial assessment of each case, followed by same-day testing and/or intervention if necessary. Our collaborative team will then develop and implement a personalized care plan that best suits the needs and preferences of each individual patient. Our wide range of treatment options includes minimally invasive surgical, endoscopic, and radiologic techniques, as well as access to integrative medicine and supportive therapy.

We employ a unique approach to identifying and treating both pre-cancerous lesions of the pancreas and individuals who are at a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, in the hope of avoiding the development of cancers in the future. Patients found to have malignancies will be offered the opportunity to have their tumors tested through DNA sequencing, and, when possible, participate in appropriate research studies of promising new therapies.

We understand that a GI cancer diagnosis can produce a high level of stress for patients, so we provide a nurse navigator to help organize your care. A hallmark of the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, our Nurse Navigator program helps streamline your introduction to UAB Medicine by arranging for your medical records, setting your appointments, and guiding you throughout the process. This allows your treatment team to deliver more efficient care.







UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials