Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a type of gastrointestinal cancer that occurs in the pancreas, a gland behind the stomach and in front of the spine. The pancreas makes insulin and other hormones that help the body absorb sugar and control blood sugar, and it produces juices that aid in digestion.

Pancreatic cancer frequently spreads, and early detection can help increase chances of survival.

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center offers a multidisciplinary, expert-based team approach to diagnosing and treating each patient.

You will be evaluated by a member of our pancreatic cancer treatment team, as well as by a multidisciplinary team that meets regularly to go over patient cases and treatment. We will discuss your needs and develop an individualized treatment plan that focuses on both the elimination of the cancer and the preservation of your quality of life.

Meet the Pancreatic Cancer Team

See all of our gastrointestinal cancer specialists.

Types of Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas contains two main types of cells: exocrine cells, which make digestive juices, and endocrine cells, which produce hormones.

Adenocarcinoma is cancer of the exocrine cells. It accounts for 95 percent of pancreatic cancers.

When tumors occur in the endocrine cells, they are called pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). These tumors are less common and slower growing. Patients with this diagnosis are also cared for by our team of pancreas tumor experts.


UT Southwestern offers the most advanced and accurate technology available to diagnose pancreatic cancer. Our highly skilled pathologists, diagnostic radiologists, and expert technicians understand the challenges of diagnosing pancreatic cancer.

Tests they may use include diagnostic imaging tests such as:

  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy


When detected at an early stage, pancreatic cancer has a higher chance of being successfully treated. However, we also offer treatments that can help control the disease for patients with later-stage pancreatic cancer to help them live longer.

Surgery is the only treatment with the potential to cure adenocarcinoma or pancreatic NETs. UT Southwestern’s pancreatic cancer team includes some of the most experienced pancreatic surgeons in the region offering minimally invasive pancreas surgery and resection of tumors that have grown into nearby blood vessels.

Your treatment will most likely include chemotherapy if you have adenocarcinoma, and you may receive radiation therapy or chemoradiation – a combination of radiation and chemotherapy – to help cure or control the disease.

If you have pancreatic NETs, hormonal treatments may help control the disease.

Learn more about treatments for gastrointestinal cancers.

Clinical Trials

UT Southwestern offers clinical trials that may provide you with an opportunity to complement traditional therapy for pancreatic cancer with the newest, most promising treatment strategies. Talk with your doctor to determine if a clinical trial is right for you.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a pancreatic cancer specialist, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.