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Pancreatic Cancer Specialists in Tacoma, WA

Cancer of the pancreas typically develops as a result of mutated cell growth within the organ’s tissue, which is often related to the progression of common pancreatic diseases such as pancreatitis.

The Role of the Pancreas

The pancreas is an organ responsible for aiding in the body’s digestive processes by producing enzymes that are deposited into the gastrointestinal tract, which help to break down the food we eat. The pancreas also supplies the body with hormones needed to control an individual’s blood-sugar levels (also known as glucose levels).

Clearly, any dysfunction in these processes can cause significant damage to the entire body. This makes early detection and treatment of any pancreatic diseases or disorders incredibly important.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Symptoms of this condition are typically rather vague and nonspecific, but can include:

  • Jaundice (developing a yellow hue to the eyes and/or skin)
  • Pain within the upper abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Back pain
  • Nausea
  • Recent-onset diabetes
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite

Because it is rare for symptoms of pancreatic cancer to appear until the disease has developed considerably over time, routine screenings and examinations are a vital part of detecting this deadly condition. If you begin to notice any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, be sure to schedule a consultation with our officeimmediately.

Knowing Your Risk Factors

In addition to remaining vigilant of abnormal symptoms, it is also beneficial to be aware if you are at an increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer at some point in your life. While these risks do not guarantee a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, they have proven to greatly influence an individual’s odds of encountering the disease.

These risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a family history of pancreatic cancer, or genetic mutations that increase your general risk for cancer (BRCA2 gene mutation)
  • Being a smoker
  • Having diabetes
  • Being of an older age (a majority of pancreatic cancer cases occur in adults age 65 and up)
  • Being diagnosed with pancreatitis

Seeking Treatment in Washington State

Types of Pancreatic Cancer

Once various blood tests and biopsies are performed to determine if pancreatic cancer is indeed present, it is necessary to identify the particular type that the patient is dealing with. This classification helps the care team at Northwest Medical Specialties put together a detailed treatment plan designed specifically for that patient and their case of pancreatic cancer.

The type of treatment recommended by our office will depend heavily on whether the cancerous tumor found on the pancreas is exocrine or neuroendocrine. A large majority of pancreatic cancers are the result of an exocrine tumor, which often develop very quickly and require more drastic treatment methods. Neuroendocrine tumors on the other hand are more likely to develop slowly over time, though they should still be treated as soon as possible to limit the potential harm they can inflict on the patient’s body.

Cancer Staging

In addition to the type of pancreatic cancer, it is also important for our specialists to determine the stage of this disease before they will be able to proceed with a course of treatment. The further the staging of the cancer, the more difficult the treatment will likely be. The patient’s overall health is also a considerable factor into what types of treatment may be best for them.

Getting Answers from Northwest Medical Specialties

A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is overwhelming in many ways, which is why it is so helpful to have an entire team of trained professionals to offer their advice and expertise regarding your next steps in fighting this disease.

To schedule a consultation with the specialists of Northwest Medical Specialties, please call (253)428-8700 today!

HEALTH ALERT! For the safety of our patients and staff only patients will be allowed into our clinics and everyone MUST wear a mask. See additional information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Important COVID 19  Information for patients of Northwest Medical Specialties

November 16, 2020 Update

During these difficult times we are making every effort to keep our patients and staff safe from COVID 19, we appreciate your patience and understanding with the changes you may have seen within our practice.

We strive to protect our patients and staff as much as we possibly can from any exposure on our premises.  NWMS has implemented a system wide policy that does not allow anyone in the building that is not a patient and everyone must wear an NWMS provided mask over their mouth and nose during their time on our premises.  This is to protect our vulnerable patients from the unforeseen possibility of exposure to COVID 19 which can be transmitted through aerosol droplets.  Sadly, we have had patients that have died from the complications of COVID 19, which is both devastating and preventable.

We offer a virtual visit option for family, friends, and companions to participate in the care of our patients through Zoom.  Our staff will assist you with every step of the login process and invite you to participate in real time from your vehicle or designated safe space in our building. Please contact us at 253-428-8700 to set this up.

The following offices are temporarily closed:

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, please make sure to contact us via phone prior to your appointment. You may also contact us for any additional questions by calling our office at (253) 428-8700.

Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control