Mass General Cancer Center
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114
Explore the Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Program
The Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers 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:
- The region's most extensive experience performing pancreatic resections, including the Whipple Procedure.
- Expertise in minimally-invasive surgery for pancreatic cancer
- Proton Therapy at New England’s only proton radiation facility
- The Andrew L. Warshaw Institute for Pancreatic Cancer Research, a comprehensive research center dedicated to advancing care for pancreatic cancer patients
- Access to one of New England's only Advanced Endoscopy Service in collaboration with Mass General's Digestive Healthcare Center
- Rapid diagnosis and staging of all biopsied tumors (typically within 24 to 36 hours)
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
In this video, Mass General provides its outcomes and performance data for surgical treatment of pancreatic conditions including cancer and necrotizing pancreatitis.
Our high volume of pancreatectomies—and skilled team of highly rated pancreatic surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and physical therapists—help us to attain expected results in treating patients with extremely complex conditions of the pancreas. In our care, we emphasize minimally invasive surgical and anesthetic techniques that enable shorter stays and fewer complications. Patients at Mass General are able to leave the hospital sooner compared to the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) norms.
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.
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.
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
Developing Better Therapies through Research
Our 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.
Designated National Pancreas Foundation Center
The National Pancreas Foundation (NPF) has recognized Mass General as both an NPF Pancreatic Cancer Center and an NPF Pancreatitis (non-cancerous) Center. These important recognitions are given to premier healthcare facilities that focus on the multidisciplinary treatment of pancreatic cancer and acute pancreatitis, best possible outcomes and improved quality of life for patients. Learn more about the NPF recognitions.
The Cancer Center is a leading provider of clinical trials 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.
Meet the Team
Meet our multidisciplinary team of pancreatic cancer specialists.
- Clinical Director, Gastrointestinal Oncology
- Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
- Clinical Co-director; GI Cancer Center
- Director, Pancreas and Biliary Surgery Program
- Director, Gastrointestinal Service, Department of Radiation Oncology
- Director, Medical Oncology Research for Pancreatic Cancer
- Director, Cancer Center Grand Rounds Program
A checklist of items to bring with you for your first visit and helpful information.
Pancreatic Cancer: Your Family, Genes, and Cancer Risk
Saturday, November 6, 2021 | Free Virtual Event
Please join the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment for a free virtual patient symposium for patients and families to learn about the most recent updates in hereditary cancer risk assessment for pancreatic cancer. View agenda and register here.
Support Gastrointestinal Cancer Research
Your gift enables our team at the Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers to pursue new treatment options for patients with gastrointestinal cancers. Make a gift.