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Pancreatic Cancer Care

About Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is an organ that regulates blood sugar and helps with digestion. Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells grow abnormally in the pancreas.

In the United States, cancer of the pancreas accounts for 3 percent of all cancers and 7 percent of all cancer deaths.

Doctors diagnose around 50,000 people a year with pancreatic cancer. Of these, 95 percent or more have exocrine pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma).

Why Choose UPMC for Pancreatic Cancer Care?

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center's Pancreatic Cancer Program harnesses the expertise of a multidisciplinary team to provide comprehensive, cutting-edge therapy for patients with all types and stages of pancreatic cancer. Our pancreatic cancer surgeons work with specialists in many fields to provide state-of-the-art treatment strategies, including the most advanced therapies, precision-based approaches, and the latest clinical trials.


Our surgical team is among the most experienced in the world, performing more than 1,000 pancreatic resections over the past 10 years, including more than 500 robotic Whipple procedures.

UPMC pioneered the use of robotic surgery for pancreatic cancer and performs more of these procedures than any other center in the nation.

Novel Chemotherapies and Precision Medicine

Chemotherapy can be an effective treatment option for patients with pancreatic cancer and may be used in combination with another therapy, such as radiation or surgery. Our team develops customized treatment plans using the latest chemotherapy regimens based on each patient’s condition, overall health, and treatment goals.

For patients who are surgical candidates, our experts use neoadjuvant chemotherapy, or chemotherapy that is given before surgery, to develop precision-based treatments after surgery. This involves:

  • Administering chemo before surgery to shrink the tumor(s)
  • Examining the tumor(s) after surgery to determine if the chemo effectively killed the tumor cells
  • Continuing with the same type of chemo following surgery, or trying a different, potentially more effective type

This approach allows our experts to identify which treatments are the most effective for each individual patient, improving survival rates.

Clinical Trials

The experts in our program are participating in — and in some cases, leading — clinical trials to develop more effective treatments for pancreatic cancer. Our investigators are exploring the use of checkpoint inhibitors, a type of immunotherapy, in combination with chemotherapy for surgical candidates. We will soon open a new trial examining the effectiveness of intra-arterial chemotherapy delivered through a catheter.

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Types of Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer can affect the exocrine or endocrine functions of the pancreas. There are also various types of cancer that can affect the pancreas.

Read about the types of pancreatic cancer.
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Pancreatic Cancer Screenings and Exams

You should think about getting screened if you:

  • Have a family history of pancreatic cancer.
  • Are a male over the age of 55.
  • Have diabetes and are over 50 years old.

Read more about pancreatic cancer screenings.
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Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Program

The Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Program creates individual plans to help each patient through diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.

Learn more about our Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Program.
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Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer

There are many treatment options for pancreatic cancer, including:

See pancreatic cancer treatment options at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.