Pancreas & Liver Cancer
During 2016, almost 40,000 people in the US were diagnosed with a cancer of the liver, bile ducts, or gallbladder, and over 53,000 were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. * Liver cancer, a type of hepatobiliary cancer, is classified as either primary (cancer originates in the liver) or secondary/metastatic (cancer spreads to the liver from somewhere else in the body). Other types of hepatobiliary cancers include malignant or cancerous tumors originating in the cells of the bile ducts and gallbladder. Hepatobiliary tumors may arise from the biliary tract itself, such as cholangiocarcinoma or gallbladder carcinoma, or from liver tissue, such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Hepatobiliary/Liver cancers are difficult to detect early and do not typically produce signs or symptoms until later stages of the disease. Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies horizontally behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages.
Screening and Diagnostics
Hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers typically do not produce signs in their early stages, and may either start in the liver, pancreas, bile duct, or gallbladder or they may spread from somewhere else in the body. While many patients do not experience symptoms at all, when they do occur, they may include:
- Decreased appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the abdomen
Tests or procedures used to diagnose hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers vary from case to case. Blood tests and liver function tests may be conducted in order to determine how well the liver, pancreas, and bile ducts are functioning. Imaging studies, including an abdominal ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan, are used to determine the size and extent of the cancer and to determine if it has spread to other areas or parts of the body. A biopsy is typically performed in order to obtain a diagnosis and to determine the appropriate course of therapy which may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of treatment modalities.
Atlanta Cancer Care offers the latest treatments, technologies, and clinical trials to offer more patients with hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers a better hope for a cure. Surgery, chemotherapy, interventional radiology procedures, and radiation therapy are traditional treatment options, and treatment recommendations depend upon factors including cancer size and stage, prognostic indicators, personal history, medical history, and other information. Each patient is unique, and Atlanta Cancer Care’s team treats each patient individually based on their specific circumstances.
*Cancer Facts and Figures 2016; American Cancer Society website; https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2016/cancer-facts-and-figures-2016.pdf