• The head of the pancreas (the body of the pancreas may also be removed)
  • Distal common bile duct
  • Duodenum
  • Part of the stomach (possibly)
  • Gallbladder
  • Lymph nodes near the pancreas

After surgery, bile from the liver, food from the stomach, and digestive juices from the remaining part of the pancreas all enter the small intestine.

Q: Should everyone get a second opinion for a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer?

A: Many people with cancer get a second opinion from another doctor. There are many reasons to get a second opinion. These are some of the reasons.

  • The person is not comfortable with the treatment decision.
  • The type of cancer is rare.
  • There are different ways to treat the cancer.
  • The person is not able to see a cancer expert.

Q: How can someone get a second opinion?

A: These are some ways to get a second opinion.

  • Talk with a primary doctor. He or she may be able to recommend a specialist. This might include a surgeon, medical oncologist, or radiation oncologist. Sometimes these doctors work together at cancer centers or programs.
  • Ask the Cancer Information Service (800-4-CANCER) for help. It can provide treatment facilities, cancer centers, and other programs supported by the National Cancer Institute.
  • Get names of doctors from other sources. Check with a local medical society, a nearby hospital, a medical school, local cancer advocacy groups, or other people who have had pancreatic cancer.
  • Consult The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists. This book from the American Board of Medical Specialists lists doctors by state. It gives their specialty, background, and training. It is available at most public libraries or on the Internet at www.abms.org.

Pancreatic Cancer Statistics

These are 2011 statistics from the American Cancer Society’s Facts & Figures about pancreatic cancer:

  • About 44,030 people will be told they have pancreatic cancer this year.
  • The rate of pancreatic cancer in both men and women has decreased slightly over the past 15 to 25 years.
  • Nearly 90 percent of people with cancer of the pancreas are age 55 and older, and more than 70 percent are ages 65 and older.
  • African-Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than whites - the reasons for this are not clear.
  • Smokers are two to three times as likely as nonsmokers to get pancreatic cancer.
  • An estimated 37,660 Americans will die of pancreatic cancer this year, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women.