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What to Expect
Learn what’s involved in pancreatic cancer treatment.
You may have questions about what to expect after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. We offer the best possible treatment, which means providing information, education and support for pancreatic cancer.
What can I expect from my care at Henry Ford?
Our team of pancreatic surgeons have performed several hundred pancreas operations. Our surgical oncologists were the first in Michigan to use NanoKnife to destroy pancreatic tumors.
Our team-based approach brings together surgeons and specialists from different areas of medicine. These specialists include:
- Gastroenterologists: doctors who specialize in the medical management of the digestive tract
- Surgical oncologists: surgeons who specialize in pancreatic cancer surgery
- Interventional radiologists: use minimally invasive image-guided techniques to diagnose and treat diseases
- Medical oncologists: cancer experts who have special training in chemotherapy and medical oncology
- Radiation oncologists: cancer experts who have special training in using radiation
We’ll make sure you understand what is involved with your treatment and any potential risks. We’ll inform you about the steps you need to take before you arrive for treatment or surgery.
Our experts take a team approach to patient care. Our tumor board meets weekly to review each case and collaborate to develop the best treatment for each individual patient. You’ll meet your entire care team during one appointment when they’ll share these treatment recommendations. The care team consists of a nurse navigator, gastroenterologists, interventional radiologists, psychologist, nurse practitioner, nutritionist, surgical oncologist, and medical oncologist.
Minimizing your surgery risk (and recovery time)
In a standard pancreatic cancer operation, surgeons would remove tumors through a long incision in the abdomen. Then, chemotherapy and radiation treatments would be delayed by at least six weeks as the patient recovered, losing valuable time in the battle against cancer.
Our surgery team attacks the cancer differently and has better outcomes. Here’s how our physicians will treat your pancreatic cancer:
- You’ll undergo a laparoscopic surgery. Doctors use small keyhole size incisions to determine the type of cancer you have. Typically, patients recover in one to two days.
- If you have a type of cancer that would benefit from chemotherapy and radiation, we begin treatment.
- After that, you can go in for full surgery to remove the tumor if possible.
This approach improves the chances of you getting all three standard treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation) when compared to the traditional approach. In addition to these standard treatments, we also offer a number of minimally invasive techniques to treat pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic surgery outcomes
If you need surgery for your pancreatic cancer, it will likely be a pancreatic resection – removing the cancerous tumor from the pancreas. This surgery is the only way to cure pancreatic cancer, and it is a complex operation. Our pancreatic cancer team is experienced in performing this procedure. However, as with any surgery, you still may have complications, including a small risk of serious complications that could be life-threatening.
Patients usually spend three to 10 days in the hospital after pancreas surgery. During this time, you won’t be able to eat food as you regularly would. We will make sure you receive the nutrients you need through an intravenous infusion pump. After you leave the hospital, it will take at least two months to recover fully, though it may take longer. We’ll have you come back to the hospital regularly to assess your body function.