Questions to
ask your doctor about pancreatic cancer

pancreatic cancer: (i) home page (ii) staging (iii) treatment
(iv) surgical treatment (v) whipple operation (vi) palliation
(viii) USC teatment protocols (ix) genetics (x) questions for your doctor

Treatment of pancreatic cancer is complex and requires a multidisciplinary program involving pancreatic surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. Outcomes from pancreatic cancer is dependant on the experience of the institution and the surgeon treating the condition. An open and frank discussion with your physician may help you make appropriate choices regarding your therapy.

Some of the questions that you may want to consider asking your physician:

  • What type of pancreatic cancer do I have?
  • What is the stage of my cancer and has the cancer spread outside my pancreas?
  • What type of CT scan facilities do you have?
  • Does the CT scan pictures incorporate very thin sections through the pancreas so that my tumor can be adequately staged?
  • What treatment choices do I have and what therapy do you recommend and why?
  • Is my cancer removable by surgery? If not then why not?
  • What is your experience in assessing whether the cancer can be removed by surgery?
  • Can I get a referral to a center that has experience in treating pancreatic cancer?

If you see a surgeon then asking some of the following questions may help you in making a decision:

  • How many pancreatic cancers are operated at your hospital on a yearly basis?
  • How many Whipple operations have you done?
  • How many Whipple operations do you do a year?
  • What are the complications in your hands of a Whipple operations?
  • What is the death rate of the Whipple operation at your institution and in your hands?
  • How many pancreatic cancer patients do you treat per year?
  • Do you do laparoscopic pancreatic surgery?
  • What is the average length of hospital stay of the patients that you have treated in the past?

If you plan to enroll in a clinical trial then consider some of the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the study?
  • What kind of tests and treatments does the study involve?
  • What does the treatment do?
  • What side effects can I expect from the treatment and how are these side effects controlled?
  • Will this study cost me anything and will my insurance cover the costs of this study?
  • What is the expected response rate of the treatment for my cancer?
  • Is this a phase I and phase II trial or a phase III?
  • What is the expected benefit of this study compared to standard therapy for pancreatic cancer?

Contact information: USC Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases
1510 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, CA
1-855-724-7874 dde-mail:
Programs: pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis, laparoscopic surgery, endocrine surgery,
biliary surgery

This web site provides select information about pancreatic and biliary disorders and is updated twice monthly. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical consultation with your physician.It is important that you consult with your physician for detailed information about your medical condition and treatment.The center will make every effort to update the site, however, past performance is no guarantee of future medical outcomes.
Copyright © 2002 USC Center for pancreatic and biliary diseases. All rights reserved.