UW Pancreatic Cancer Care
Dedicated to Early Diagnosis, Prevention & Treatment
Welcome to the University of Washington Pancreatic Cancer Care website. Cancers of the pancreas are responsible for more than 30,000 deaths in the United States yearly. These cancers could be curable if diagnosed early, if innovative treatments are used, and if researchers uncover causes for the disease. Here at the University of Washington, along with experts and specialists from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, we are dedicated to developing more accurate methods of early diagnosis and curative treatment of pancreatic cancers. We support a multi-dimensional approach to cancer research and diagnosis and to the education of patients and health care professionals.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Unfortunately, because of the location of the pancreas, deep in the body just in front of the spine, most patients do not develop symptoms until the disease is advanced. Some people may develop abdominal or back pain, unexplained weight loss, or become jaundiced (yellow). Surgery is an option for treatment if there is no evidence of metastases or tumor spread through the pancreas into the adjacent organs. Some patients with confined small tumors may a combination surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Many patients can not have surgery because their cancer has already spread beyond the pancreas. For these patients, alternatives to surgery include chemotherapy and supportive care.
Because pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat, it is important to understand risk factors, particularly ones that we can change--such as environmental exposures (smoking, toxic chemicals). In addition, in families that appear to inherit pancreatic cancer, it is now possible to screen this patients for the development of pre-cancerous changes in the pancreas.
Our mission is to provide a center of excellence for clinical care and research advances for patients and their families with pancreatic cancer through a state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary approach to the diagnosis, treatment, research, and prevention of pancreatic cancer. Our specific aims are:
- To provide state-of-the-art research and treatment for pancreatic cancer and it’s pre-cancerous precursors.
- To approach the patient comprehensively using a multidisciplinary team of specialists who will assess risk, current disease status, and appropriate therapeutic interventions and carry them out.
- To develop innovative methods for earlier diagnosis of cancer at a stage when it is still curable.
- To develop a supportive counseling program for family members of patients with pancreatic cancer to assess their risks and to advise them on appropriate diagnostic procedures and treatment options.
- To perform population-based research to better understand the causes of pancreatic cancer and to develop effective intervention strategies.
- To expand our training program to disseminate the skills and knowledge developed at the Center.