What You Need to Know After a Pancreatic Cancer DiagnosisA cancer diagnosis is always a shocking experience and one that can lead to a bit of an anatomy lesson in order to understand the affected part of the body and its function. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, here are several things you need to know.

The prognosis isn’t good, but surgery can lead to a more specific diagnosis and treatment plan

The cure rate for pancreatic cancer is only about 7% after diagnosis, but some times during surgery we see patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who don’t actually have cancer in their pancreas. The cancer could be in a surrounding organ, like a bile duct. The primary role pancreas surgery serves is in pinpointing exactly where the issue is. Surgery allows doctors to find and remove tiny tumors no bigger than a small fragment of a pin head, which would be imperceptible on any scan. Then once we’ve removed the tumor, we can complete a more specific diagnosis and establish the best treatment plan for you.

Quit smoking and manage your diabetes

While age and family history do play a role, smoking and diabetes are huge risk factors for pancreatic cancer. The average age of patients with pancreatic cancer is over 60 with average life expectancy in the mid 70s, but smoking increases the chances of having cardiovascular issues and further limits life expectancy. The trouble is, pancreatic cancer is sometimes called a “silent disease” because symptoms may not be present in its early stages By the time you’re experiencing symptoms of pancreatic cancer, such as jaundice, abdominal and/or back pain and unexplained weight loss, your cancer may be more advanced. Recovery from pancreas surgery doesn’t usually have long term limitations

During pancreas surgery, we typically only remove a portion of the pancreas. Without a pancreas, you’d be in perpetually unstable diabetic state–seesawing back and forth between too much insulin and too little very quickly. After recovery from pancreas surgery, you are unlikely to experience any significant long term limitations.

The surgeons at Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville are certified by the American Board of Surgery and have specialized knowledge and skill relating to the diagnosis, pre-operative, operative, and post-operative management of surgical oncology issues, including skin cancer. Our experienced specialists offer a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care working to develop an individual plan of care for each patient. To learn more about surgical oncology at Premier Surgical Associates visit our website.