Diseases and disorders of the pancreas can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Their care is best handled by a multidisciplinary team of specialists who regularly see such patients. Such a team forms the hallmark of care available at the Pancreas Program in the Center for Advanced Digestive Care (CADC) at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Our program is one of only a handful of centers in the nation designated as a National Pancreas Foundation Center for the treatment and care of patients with pancreatic cancer.
The program is closely aligned with the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health, whose efforts supporting screening and prevention of GI cancer in at-risk patients go hand-in-hand with the work of the Pancreas Program to innovate and advance the treatment of pancreatic disorders.
The Pancreas Program features a multidisciplinary team of specialists from surgery, gastroenterology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, pain management, nutrition, radiology, and pathology. Our physicians perform a high volume of the procedures used to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer, cysts in the pancreas, and pancreatitis. Studies have shown that patient outcomes are better at hospitals with such high volumes and a multidisciplinary approach. As part of a large academic medical center, we are also able to link patients with experts who can care for other illnesses and conditions they may have, such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
The patient care we provide is compassionate, individualized, and seamless. Patients benefit from clinical program coordinators (nurses who facilitate communication with the healthcare team, family members, and referring physicians) and nurse practitioners (who act as intermediaries between hospitalized patients and others involved in patient care). Social workers, registered dietitians, genetic counselors, and other support professionals work as key members of the team to meet the needs of patients and their families.
Education also forms a big part of what we do. The Center for Advanced Digestive Care regularly provides seminars for patients and their families. We also collaborate with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which funds research and links patients and families to support and education.
Who We Treat
We care for patients with the full range of cancerous and noncancerous pancreatic diseases, including:
- Pancreatic cancers (adenocarcinomas)
- Pancreatic neuroendocrine/islet cell cancers and other rare tumors
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) — both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term)
- Pancreatic cysts and pseudocysts (sacs containing pancreatic fluid that may develop in patients with pancreatitis)
- Blockage of the pancreatic ducts (such as that due to a stone, pancreatitis, or cancers of the pancreas or nearby structures)
We excel in early diagnosis, minimally invasive interventions, surgical services, and palliative treatment to relieve patients' symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Advanced Diagnostic Techniques
The diagnosis of pancreatic disorders can be as intricate as their treatment. CADC physicians use the following approaches to visualize — and in some cases treat — disorders of the pancreas and achieve a diagnosis as early as possible:
- High-resolution computed tomography (CT)
- State-of-the-art ultrasound to detect gallstones
- 3D CT angiography to stage pancreatic cancer
- High-resolution 3D magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography
- Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography with secretin stimulation
- Positron emission tomography to stage pancreatic cancer
Advanced Endoscopy Techniques
To obtain a definitive diagnosis and glean more specific information about a patient's disease, CADC doctors may employ advanced interventional endoscopic techniques, such as:
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) with fine-needle aspiration
- EUS-guided ERCP
- Probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy
- Choledochopancreaticoscopy with biopsy
Palliative and Supportive Care
Pancreatic diseases can cause patients pain, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), and malnourishment. We can offer patients endoscopic interventional techniques to relieve pressure and pain and restore a patient's ability to eat. Such techniques include:
- Celiac plexus neurolysis, anesthetizing the celiac plexus nerves in the abdomen to relieve severe pain
- Ablation of diseased tissue using laser or radiofrequency ablation
- Insertion of a stent in a blocked duct remove an obstruction, allow drainage, and restore function
- Insertion of an enteral stent or (feeding) tube
Our registered dietitians work one-on-one with patients to create a dietary plan to ensure they receive adequate nutrition.