Ellen J Hagopian, MD, FACS

Pancreas Diseases, Pancreatic Cancer and Surgery

Common diseases of the pancreas can be divided into either neoplasms (tumors which can be cancerous or non-cancerous) or inflammation (pancreatitis).  Unfortunately, a solid tumor of the pancreas is most likely to be pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer is commonly adenocarcinoma, although other types of pancreatic cancer include neuroendocrine (endocrine or islet cell), squamous, metastatic or lymphomas.  In most cases, surgery to remove a portion of the pancreas containing the tumor is the best possible chance of cure.  Examples of the common types of pancreas surgery include pancreaticoduodenectomy (the “Whipple” operation) or distal pancreatectomy.  Surgery is commonly combined with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Cysts of the pancreas tumors may be non-cancerous, pre-cancerous, or cancerous.  Types of pancreas cysts include serous cystadenomas, mucinous cystadenomas, intraductal pancreatic mucinous cystic neoplasms (IPMN), or rarely cystadenocarcinomas.   It is important to diagnose the type of cyst as this will determine treatment.  Recommendations for treatment range from observation to surgery.  If surgery is recommended, the surgical resection types are similar to those operations performed for pancreatic cancer. 

Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) is commonly caused by either gallstones (gallstone pancreatitis) or excessive alcohol use (alcoholic pancreatitis).  Treatment typically involves a period of observation to allow the inflammation to subside and removal of the cause of inflammation.  If the cause is gallstones, the recommended treatment is surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy), and in some cases, this is combined with endoscopy.  If the cause is alcohol, abstinence from alcohol intake is mandatory.  For help abstaining from alcohol, please speak with your doctor.


Pancreatic cancer

Informational Sheets: Videos:
Alcohol and Liver Disease Meet Dr Hagopian
Sensible drinking Liver Cancer: Armenian Radio Hour
Gallstones Liver Cancer Prevention
Primary Liver Cancer Liver Cancer Patient Experience
Metastatic Liver Cancer  
Pancreas Cancer  
Gallbladder Cancer  
Bile Duct Cancer