Pancreatic cancer care in the Greater Kansas City area

Our advanced care for patients with pancreatic cancer is backed by the combined forces of Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest Health and The Liver and Pancreas Institute at Research Medical Center. Our hepatologists, oncologists, radiologists and surgeons provide multidisciplinary treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer. With our expertise in hepatology and support from Sarah Cannon, our patients have access to highly specialized pancreatic cancer care and extensive support resources, including dedicated nurse navigators.

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Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute - HCA Midwest Health

How the pancreas works

The pancreas is a crucial part of the digestion process. It is responsible for creating enzymes that break down certain substances, such as sugars and fats. In addition to its digestive purpose, it releases hormones into the bloodstream. One of these is insulin, which is needed to regulate blood sugar levels in the blood. Doctors may diagnose certain types of diabetes when a build up in the blood occurs as a result of the pancreas' inability to produce insulin.

Two types of pancreatic cancer

There are two types of pancreatic cancer: one that affects the enzymes meant to break down food and one that begins in the cells that produce hormones. Since one deals with the digestive system and one with the endocrine system, doctors treat the two types of pancreatic cancer differently.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Unfortunately, most patients do not experience any early warning signs of pancreatic cancer. Symptoms often do not appear until the cancer has reached advanced stages. However, some symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and/or eyes)
  • Stool that is light in color
  • Unusual weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Urine that is dark in color

Treatment options for pancreatic cancer

Treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on the type of cancer (digestive system or hormone-related), stage and other personal health factors. Patients in our care have access to a range of treatment options, including:

In addition to cancer support resources, our cancer wellness team also offers cancer rehabilitation services to help manage any pain, fatigue or side effects that cancer treatments may cause.

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer

Researchers have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of pancreatic cancer. However, they have identified certain factors that may increase a person's risk for developing it. These risk factors include:

  • Certain gene mutations
  • Chronic pancreatitis (inflammation in the pancreas)
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Smoking

About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute

HCA Midwest Health is part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. Our family of hospitals provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally trusted care with the support of a globally recognized network.

askSARAH helpline

Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially trained nurses are available 24/7, and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (816) 448-7737 or visit askSARAHnow.