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Your care team

  • Our experts work as a team to support your physical and emotional needs. Your pancreatic cancer care team may include doctors and other health care professionals.


    Your primary care provider guides your overall medical care. This is the first medical professional you should go to about any health concern.

    Surgeons with special training can remove tumors from the pancreas.

    Medical oncologists coordinate cancer care through the course of the disease. They also prescribe chemotherapy and other anti-cancer drugs, as well as pain medicine.

    Radiation oncologists stop the growth of cancer cells with radiation therapy.

    Radiologists use computed tomography (CT scan) positronic emission tomography (PET scan) and endoscopic ultrasound to find pancreatic cancer.

    Pathologists work in the medical laboratory,where they examine cells, body fluids and tissue samples for traces of cancer.

    Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat problems with the digestive system, which includes the pancreas. They can use endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography ERCP and endoscopic ultrasound to find tumors in the pancreas.

    Other cancer care team members

    Cancer care coordinators meet with patients and their families to provide support and help them navigate the medical system. The same cancer care coordinator can support a patient from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up.

    Genetic counselors address concerns about inheriting cancer.

    Healing coaches offer support, information and referrals for complementary therapies. While bridging the worlds of mainstream and alternative medicine, they can help address concerns and feelings raised by pancreatic cancer.

    Questions for your cancer care team

    You, your family and friends will have many questions even before you have met with anyone on your cancer care team.

    Bringing family members or friends to appointments is often comforting. The additional set of ears can be helpful as well.

    Writing down your questions before the appointment is the best way to make sure any issues are addressed. Be sure to leave space so you can write down the answers.

    This list of basic questions may be a helpful start:

    • What type of cancer do I have and why is that important?
    • What is the stage of my cancer?
    • How does the stage affect the treatment plan?
    • What are my treatment options?
    • What treatment is being recommended and why?
    • What are the goals of treatment?
    • What are the benefits and the risks?
    • What symptoms and side effects might I expect, and what are some ways to manage them?
    • How will the cancer and the treatment impact my daily life?
    • Are there clinical research trials I may be eligible for?
    • Who are the members of my team?
      • What are their roles?
      • What are the contact numbers?
  • Cancer care is much more than treating a disease.

    This video covers care coordination, one of the essential components of cancer care at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute.

    expand to learn more Read cancer care coordinator video transcript

  • Source: Pancreatic Cancer Program, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
    Reviewed by: Timothy Sielaff, MD, PhD, FACS, medical director, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute; Jennifer Stanek, RN, BSN, manager, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute Clinic
    First published: 08/27/2009
    Last reviewed: 08/27/2009