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Pancreatic Cancer Specialist

Greater Houston Radiation Oncology

Radiation Oncologists located in North Houston, South Houston & Huntsville, TX

Pancreatic cancer often reaches an advanced stage before you get a diagnosis because it causes so few symptoms. If you have pancreatic cancer, Kirk Kanady, MD, and Maria Sosa, MD, of Greater Houston Radiation Oncology can help. They have two offices in Houston, Texas, and one in Huntsville, Texas, where you can receive the latest radiation therapy treatments for pancreatic cancer. For treatment that offers optimal effectiveness with fewer side effects, call the Greater Houston Radiation Oncology office nearest you or book a consultation online today.

Pancreatic Cancer Q & A

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a disease that affects your pancreas, a pear-shaped gland about six inches long that sits behind your stomach.

Your pancreas produces the digestive juices you need to break down food. It's also responsible for making insulin, the hormone your body requires to regulate blood sugar levels, and help you store and use the energy your food produces.

Sometimes cells in your pancreas can mutate and proliferate, resulting in a tumor. There are two types of pancreatic cancer. Exocrine pancreatic cancer initially affects the cells that produce digestive juices. The majority of pancreatic cancers are exocrine. About 5% are endocrine, affecting the hormone-producing cells first.

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer may not cause any symptoms at first. As the disease progresses, you might experience:

  • Abdominal pain radiating to your back
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Blood clots
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice

You might also develop diabetes. If you already have diabetes, it might get harder to manage.

How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?

Diagnosing pancreatic cancer can be difficult, particularly in the earlier stages. Tests you might need include:

  • Blood chemistry studies
  • Tumor marker test
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan 
  • PET scan 
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC)
  • Fine needle biopsy

If you get a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer early enough, you have a good chance of recovery. However, as pancreatic cancer doesn't cause symptoms until a late stage, most people who receive a diagnosis have advanced disease that's more difficult to treat.

How is pancreatic cancer treated?

Treatment for pancreatic cancer could include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The Greater Houston Radiation Oncology team specializes in delivering state-of-the-art radiation therapy treatments, including:

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)

SBRT increases the chances of eliminating cancer while minimizing the risk of side effects from radiation therapy.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

IMRT technology uses many photon and proton radiation beams of varying intensities, so they mold to the shape of your tumor. This improves precision and reduces the amount of radiation that goes into healthy surrounding tissues.

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

IGRT is often used with IMRT and SBRT to deliver precise doses of radiation to tumors. It's particularly useful in areas where your body frequently moves, like your pancreas, or where other vital organs are very close to the site of the tumor.

RapidArc™ Volumetric Arc Therapy

RapidArc™ Volumetric Arc Therapy (VMAT) enables the Greater Houston Radiation Oncology team to deliver your pancreatic cancer treatment more quickly and use a lower dose of radiation. Using 3D CT (computed tomography) imaging means your provider can see the tumor during the procedure.

To find out more about the latest radiation therapy treatments for pancreatic cancer, call Greater Houston Radiation Oncology or book an appointment online today.