Digestive Diseases

NewYork-Presbyterian

Pancreatic Diseases

Superior care for benign and cancerous diseases of the pancreas

Advanced Treatments for Challenging Diseases

Research-Based Care

Man holding his stomach

Diseases of the pancreas can range from benign conditions like pancreatitis and cysts to cancer of the pancreas — one of the most aggressive and challenging cancers to treat. Pancreatic diseases are best treated by a team of experts from different disciplines who combine their skills and knowledge of the latest medical and surgical therapies to relieve your symptoms, restore your quality of life, and — whenever possible — to achieve a cure.

People come from all over the world to the Pancreas Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Pancreas Program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center for unsurpassed care of all types of pancreatic diseases.

Causes of Pancreatic Diseases

There are many different causes of pancreatic disease, and in some cases they are not known. Among the most common known causes are:

  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Genetic factors, with some families inheriting a predisposition to pancreatic diseases, including pancreatic cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High triglyceride levels
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Anatomical problems in the pancreatic and bile ducts
  • Severe bacterial or viral infection

 What 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
  • Acute and chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Pancreatic cysts and pseudocysts
  • Pancreatic fluid collection
  • Evaluation of abnormal pancreatic imaging

Pancreatic Disease Signs & Symptoms

If you have a pancreatic disease, your symptoms will depend on which type of disorder you have and how advanced it is. Common symptoms include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
  • Pain in the upper/middle abdomen that may radiate to the back
  • Abdominal swelling/bloating
  • Fatigue (feeling tired)
  • Nausea/vomiting and indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Diarrhea due to pancreatic insufficiency

Advanced diagnostic techniques and endoscopic treatments

The diagnosis of pancreatic disorders can be as intricate as their treatment. NewYork-Presbyterian’s physicians use the following approaches to visualize — and in some cases treat — disorders of the pancreas and make an accurate diagnosis as early as possible:

  • 3D computed tomography (CT) angiography to stage pancreatic cancer
  • High-resolution CT
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) with fine-needle aspiration
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to image the biliary system and treat bile duct blockages, including EUS-guided ERCP
  • Pancreatoscopy, a way to see the pancreas through a scope
  • Pancreatic function testing
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to stage pancreatic cancer
  • Probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy, using a small scope to view the small branches of the bile duct — a specialty of NewYork-Presbyterian — and optical coherence tomography

Our Approach to Care

NewYork-Presbyterian’s pancreatic care programs feature some of the best practitioners from every medical discipline. Gastroenterologists, medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, interventional endoscopists, radiologists, pathologists, award-winning nurses and nurse practitioners, genetic counselors, registered dietitians, and social workers collaborate to diagnose, treat, monitor, and prevent pancreatic diseases and to support our patients. Our team customizes a plan of care to meet your personal needs. We also host support groups for people with pancreatic diseases and their loved ones to help relieve stress and share with others going through a similar experience.

How We Treat Pancreatic Diseases

Your doctors evaluate your disease and overall health to choose the most effective treatment for you. In addition to the latest medications and advanced surgical approaches, we offer advanced procedures such as:

Interventional endoscopy. These procedures are performed through a flexible tube inserted into your mouth (with sedation) to gain access to the bile duct. NewYork-Presbyterian has the largest and most pre-eminent interventional endoscopy programs in the New York region. An example is ERCP, sometimes guided by EUS.

Relieving pain and discomfort. We understand that many pancreatic diseases can cause symptoms that interfere with your ability to eat and to enjoy your usual activities, and can sometimes be debilitating. Our pain management teams and endoscopists offer a variety of approaches to relieve pressure and pain and restore your ability to eat. Such techniques include:

  • Celiac plexus neurolysis (local anesthesia of the celiac plexus nerves in the abdomen to relieve severe pain)
  • Destruction of diseased tissue using laser or radiofrequency ablation
  • Implanting a spinal pump to relieve pain
  • Insertion of a feeding tube
  • Insertion of stent into a collection to aid drainage
  • Insertion of a stent in a blocked bile or pancreatic duct to remove an obstruction, allow drainage, and restore function

Islet cell transplantation. This treatment for people who have the pancreas surgically removed involves the infusion of the patient's own pancreatic islet cells into the liver. There they may act like a backup pancreas, independently producing insulin and enabling some patients to avoid type 1 diabetes.

Investigational therapies. Patients whose disease cannot be effectively treated with other means may be eligible to participate in clinical trials of promising new therapies, such as those for chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and ablation of pancreatic cysts. 

Why Choose Us

As part of a large institution with a track record of excellence in pancreatic research and patient care, NewYork-Presbyterian maintains our position at the forefront of treating patients with pancreatic diseases using the latest imaging applications, surgical techniques, risk assessment, genetics, screening, and early detection approaches. Should you have a healthcare need that requires a specialist other than a pancreatic expert, we can link you with the doctor you need to provide that care, too — all in one medical center. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

The Pancreas Center

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Gastroenterology and Hepatology

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Division of Liver Transplantation, Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery

NewYork-Presbyterian Queens

Division of Gastroenterology

NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn

Digestive and Liver Disorders

NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital

Digestive Disease Care

NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital

Digestive Health