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Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is a gland that lies behind the stomach and produces juices to help break down food and hormones, such as insulin, that help control blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly types of cancer and often is diagnosed when the disease has reached an advanced stage. 

Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee, medical oncologist, specializes in pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee

As a result, cutting-edge treatment requires the expertise not only of highly experienced surgeons but of radiologists, pathologists, and radiation and medical oncologists who understand the nuances of pancreatic cancer.

Lining up all the specialists can be confusing and time consuming. At Johns Hopkins, we have experts in every aspect of pancreatic cancer treatment who work together to evaluate your case and determine the best possible care for each patient. Recent study data indicate that a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating a thorough review of initial pathology results, can lead to meaningful changes in diagnosis, therapy and prognosis. Some patients are seen in a one-day, multidisciplinary clinic at Johns Hopkins.  

We are constantly searching for new therapies and methods of early detection. Through our research, we are making advances in understanding the biology of pancreatic cancer. Our goal is to help cure as many patients as we can.

Accurate Interpretation Is Critical

There are over 40 known, distinct tumors of the pancreas, and in many cases, the type of tumor will determine the most appropriate treatment. We use state-of-the-art technologies to diagnose patients accurately. Yet, as important as these technologies and tests are, it is the people interpreting them who make the real difference.

The two primary types of pancreatic tumors are adenocarcinomas and endocrine (islet cell) tumors. Adenocarcinomas make up more than 90 percent of pancreatic cancers. These tumors originate in the cells lining the organ. Endocrine (islet cell) tumors are rarer, and start in the cells that produce insulin or other hormones.


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