Treatment Programs

Pancreatic Cancer

Our pancreatic cancer program is one of the largest and most experienced in New England, benefiting from the expertise of The Andrew L. Warshaw Institute for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

cancer genetic specialists at the Mass General Cancer Center

The Andrew L. Warshaw Institute for Pancreatic Cancer Research

Our multidisciplinary team of pancreatic cancer specialists provides individualized care and compassionate support services tailored to the needs of each patient. Pancreatic cancer care at Mass General combines clinical expertise with the most advanced medical technologies, research and clinical trials available to offer every patient the most appropriate therapies. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients fully understand their diagnosis and treatment options.

Patients are usually seen within one week of referral.

Innovative Approaches The Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer offers a collaborative and caring approach to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with confirmed or suspected pancreatic cancer. Consistently ranked as one of the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report, we provide the latest, most effective treatments including promising new therapies and many innovative approaches to clinical care. Our expertise includes:

Multidisciplinary Patient Care Our team approach ensures that every patient benefits from an individualized, coordinated and compassionate treatment plan, with care provided by leading experts from many specialties. We consider patients, their family and friends involved in their care to be part of this team. Depending on the stage and other characteristics of your pancreatic cancer, this treatment plan may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these therapies. Your care team may include:

  • Pathologists and diagnostic radiologists who sub-specialize in gastrointestinal (GI) cancers to provide a precise diagnosis
  • Surgeons and Surgical Oncologists who are leading the way in performing and developing the most advanced surgical approaches for pancreatic cancer
  • Gastroenterologists specializing in digestive health
  • Endoscopists skilled in performing minimally-invasive interventional procedures
  • Medical Oncologists who plan the most effective chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments
  • Radiation Oncologists who specialize in delivering the optimal therapeutic dose while protecting healthy tissue
  • Oncology nurses who care exclusively for patients with cancer
  • Oncology psychiatrists and social workers experienced in helping with the cognitive side effects of cancer and treatment, as well the emotional and spiritual aspects of the cancer experience
  • A nutritionist to help you with questions about diet and nutrition during treatment
  • Palliative care providers to improve quality of life

Members of your care team meet regularly with you and your referring physician to ensure clear communication and seamless coordination of care.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Pancreatic Cancer Our pathologists sub-specialize in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and are internationally recognized and consulted. They participate in weekly tumor board meetings, sharing information about each patient’s unique cancer with the entire care team to help guide treatment planning.

All members of our diagnostic radiology team are nationally recognized for expertise in using the most advanced imaging tools to diagnose and stage pancreatic cancer and to detect tumor changes.

Our imaging technologies include:

  • High-speed two- and three-dimensional CT studies
  • Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Intraoperative Ultrasound
  • Lymphotrophic Nanoparticle Enhanced MRI (Molecular Imaging)

Other services include:

  • Tumor perfusion imaging with CT and MRI
  • Spectral imaging with CT
  • 3D imaging for pre-surgical planning and for monitoring treatment effects

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for pancreatic cancer may include the following:

  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography

We were one of the first U.S. hospitals to offer ERCP, a minimally invasive procedure that combines X-ray and video endoscope technologies to diagnose and treat conditions of the bile ducts. We also helped pioneer cholangioscopy, a new technique in ERCP, and have introduced other novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, some of which are available at only a few other cancer centers.

Advanced Medical Therapies For many patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, administering cancer-fighting chemotherapy may be the most effective treatment. Some new cancer drugs that are currently available or in development are designed to block mutations and pathways that cause tumor cells to proliferate. By targeting tumor gene mutations with these “smart drugs”, our doctors are beginning to understand how to eradicate malignant cells in some patients' tumors without using standard treatments like traditional chemotherapy and radiation.

Excellence in Surgical Care The Cancer Center has one of the country’s largest, most experienced pancreatic cancer surgery teams. The type of surgery performed depends on the stage of the cancer, the location and size of the tumor and the patient’s health. Our surgeons perform more than twice as many pancreatic resections as other hospitals in the region. Studies indicate that such high-volume experience often results in better outcomes for patients. Types of surgery for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Whipple Procedure
  • Distal pancreatectomy
  • Total pancreatectomy

Learn more about surgery for pancreatic cancer.

Pioneering Radiation Therapies Our team of radiation oncologists offers a variety of state-of-the-art radiation treatments to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors. Radiation therapy may be given alone, or in combination with surgery and chemotherapy. Our radiation oncologists use the most advanced therapies to treat pancreatic cancer, many of which are available at only a few select hospitals. Depending on the nature of a patient’s cancer, our team may suggest:

  • External radiation (external beam therapy): a treatment that delivers high levels of radiation directly to the cancer cells.
  • Intraoperative radiation: in which radiation is given inside the body as close to the cancer as possible. In some cases, external radiation therapy is used along with this treatment.
  • Proton beam radiation: a precise form of radiation therapy designed to target tumors while helping to preserve surrounding healthy tissue

Treating Cancer through Clinical TrialsThe Cancer Center is a leading provider of clinical trails in New England for pancreatic cancer, making clinical trial evaluation of new therapies a key treatment option. The goal of clinical trials is to seek and answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose or treat cancer. Current clinical trials include:

  • Proton beam therapy to treat liver and pancreatic cancers
  • Adjuvant treatment for pancreatic cancer
  • Antiangiogenesis drugs in combination with radiation for GI cancers

Find clinical trials for pancreatic cancer.
Find Targeted Therapy Trials for pancreatic cancer.

Developing Better Therapies through ResearchOur research program in cancer of the pancreas is a multifaceted effort designed to better understand cancer biology, discover new therapies and improve treatment. The research program in pancreatic and all GI cancers is one of New England’s largest, allowing us to bring promising new treatments to patients as quickly as possible.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in men and women in the US. Pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant cells grow out of control.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

A new chapter begins

MGH Hotline 6.13.11 On April 26, Andrew L. Warshaw, MD, stepped into the operating room to perform his last procedure after four decades of practice and nearly 14 years as surgeon-in-chief and chair of the MGH Department of Surgery.

Introducing Keith D. Lillemoe, MD

MGH Hotline 5.13.11 Keith D. Lillemoe, MD, the MGH's new surgeon-in-chief and chair of the Department of Surgery, spent 27 years at Johns Hopkins and most recently led the Department of Surgery at Indiana University Hospital.

I'm Still Here: Pancreatic Cancer Survivor

Pancreatic cancer patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center benefit from the innovative work of The Andrew L. Warshaw Institute for Pancreatic Cancer Research which includes a community of scientists, oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists and interventional endoscopists whose mission is to extend and improve the lives of patients with pancreatic cancer.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

Cancer Center

55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-5130

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