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liver and pancreas services

Liver and Pancreas Cancer FAQ

Is there an effective screening tool for pancreatic cancer?

There are many types of pancreatic cancer. The type with the poorest prognosis is known as pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Many patients who have pancreatic adenocarcinoma have vague symptoms that are misdiagnosed or undetected until the disease has become quite advanced. Unfortunately, there are currently no good screening tests for this form of cancer.

What is the Whipple procedure?

In the Whipple procedure, surgeons remove the head of the pancreas, duodenum, gallbladder and usually a portion of the stomach.

This procedure is performed for a variety of reasons, most commonly to treat cancer of the pancreas, the common bile duct or duodenum.

This operation is best performed by experienced surgeons who have a high volume of major pancreatic resections, as our UCI Health specialists do.

What options are available to patients with primary liver cancer?

There are many surgical and nonsurgical options available to patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (or primary liver cancer). The gold standard option for liver cancer is surgical resection for patients with good liver function or liver transplant for patients with cirrhosis or liver failure. 

For patients who do not qualify for resection or transplant, we offer:

  • Radiofrequency ablation (killing tumors with heat)
  • Cryoablation (freezing tumors)
  • Alcohol ablation (injecting tumors with ethanol)
  • Chemoembolization (injecting tumors with a chemotherapy drug) 
  • Internal radiation therapy (delivering radioactive isotopes to the tumor)
  • Systemic chemotherapy (oral or intravenous chemotherapy)

Are minimally invasive procedures available to patients with pancreatic cancer?

UC Irvine Medical Center is one of a few places in the United States that routinely offers a minimally invasive approach (laparoscopic) for removal of distal pancreas diseases, such as cancer and chronic pancreatitis.

Minimally invasive surgery reduces recovery time and postoperative discomfort for the patient.

Who is at risk for primary liver cancer?

Liver cancer is prevalent in the patients with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, chronic alcoholism and rare hereditary conditions, such as hemochromatosis and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.Patients with these conditions should see their primary care doctor or a liver specialist for screening tests, such as ultrasound or CT scans, to check for liver cancer.

Questions? Please call us at 888-717-GIMD (888-717-4463).

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