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Pancreatic Cancer, What you Need to Know - Oncology

In the early stages, doctors say pancreatic cancer typically has no symptoms. “The tumor is the same no matter where it is in the pancreas, but the symptoms vary, and because of that the outcomes vary,” said Dr. Mark Bloomston, a surgical oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Health. As the cancer progresses, a patient may start to notice vague symptoms like weight loss or pain in the middle of the abdomen after eating. “When you have a suspicion, a cat scan is really the only test that we can use. It gives me the most information. As a surgeon, I can determine if has spread already and if it’s removable because that is key,” he said. Although the cancer is typically aggressive and diagnosed late, surgeons work to offer patients hope and possibly a cure. “Cures happen. I’ve seen them. We expect them. That’s what we set out to do. That’s why we’ve developed this intense program of high volume pancreatic surgery here in town,” said Dr. Bloomston. Where the tumor is located in the pancreas, will decide how the operation is done. “If it’s on the left side of the pancreas it’s a matter of moving that portion of the pancreas and usually the spleen along with it. If it’s to the right of the pancreas, it’s more complicated. We remove about a third of the pancreas, about a foot of intestine, a small portion of the stomach, the bile duct, the gallbladder, all that gets removed,” said Dr. Bloomston. It’s called the Whipple operation, a lifesaving procedure Dr. Bloomston performed 75 times last year at Lee Health. “These are big operations. I always tell people that they are life changing. People can get back to an absolutely normal life,” he said. A procedure that offers many patients hope and a cure for pancreatic cancer. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care. Visit