Which specialist consultations are beneficial to patients with pancreatic cancer?

Updated: Oct 02, 2020
  • Author: Tomislav Dragovich, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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The management of pancreatic carcinoma is a multidisciplinary process. Typically, the management of pancreatic cancer entails consultations with a gastroenterologist, medical oncologist, general surgeon or surgical oncologist, and, possibly, a radiation oncologist.

A gastroenterologist is usually involved either for evaluation of the cause of the patient's presenting symptoms (eg, abdominal pain, nausea, weight loss, diarrhea) or for a definitive diagnosis of the cause of jaundice by EUS and/or ERCP. Consultation with a gastroenterologist is also needed if an endoscopically placed stent is needed for palliation of obstructive jaundice.

Consultation with a medical oncologist is often needed to select and administer neoadjuvant, adjuvant, or primary chemotherapy for the disease. Consultation with a medical oncologist is also useful for the management of other common cancer symptoms, such as pain and nausea.

Consultation with a surgeon is needed when the patient's imaging studies suggest that operative resection may be feasible. The surgeon may perform diagnostic laparoscopy or even laparoscopic ultrasonography prior to an attempt at definitive resection.

If curative resection is not possible, consultation with a surgeon may still be useful to consider operative palliation of biliary and/or duodenal obstruction. Consult with a surgeon or surgical oncologist who is very experienced in performing pancreaticoduodenectomies.

Consultation with a radiologist may be needed for special issues, such as obstructive jaundice that is difficult to manage where percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography may be needed.

Consultation with a radiation oncologist is usually considered at the discretion of a medical oncologist when combined chemoradiation may be beneficial. This approach is only indicated when this combination therapy is the subject of a clinical trial.

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