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Understanding your risk

Like other cancers, your risk depends on many variables, including:

  • Family history
  • Lifestyle behavior (e.g. smoking and tobacco use)
  • General health
  • Obesity and diets high in fat
  • Exposure to harsh chemicals
  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Diabetes
  • Age (most people are diagnosed after age 65)

Optum offers comprehensive cancer risk assessments and hereditary cancer genetics evaluation programs to help you identify your risk. Click here to start our online hereditary assessment.

Symptoms

Pancreatic, bile duct and gallbladder cancer are difficult to detect early because the symptoms are not obvious to recognize. The most common symptoms of each include:

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Upper abdominal pain with or without fever
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Skin itching
  • New onset or sudden worsening of diabetes

Optum’s oncology department offers comprehensive cancer risk assessments and hereditary cancer genetics evaluation programs to help you identify your risk.

Diagnosis

If you have specific signs and symptoms that lead to pancreatic, bile duct or gallbladder cancer, a series of tests and exams will be done to find the actual cause, starting with diagnostic imaging, such as:

  • Image guided biopsy
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging)

If findings suggestive of cancer are found during these tests, more tests may be ordered to determine the severity.

Treatment

Treatment is tailored to the specific characteristics of each patient and each tumor. The most common treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy: chemicals administered in pill or IV form to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy: high-powered beams of energy, such as X-rays and protons, that are used to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells
  • Targeted and immunotherapy: drugs that attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells or by directing your immune system to kill cancer cells
  • Surgery: to remove the the tumor or affected area

Medical care and help

To find a pancreas, bile ducts, and gallbladder cancer specialist near you, visit our providers page.

Click here to learn more about Optum’s minimally invasive robotic assisted surgery options.

Contact us if you have any questions.