Preparing for your appointment

Start by making an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. He or she may recommend tests and procedures to investigate your signs and symptoms. If your doctor determines you have pancreatic cancer, he or she might refer you to:

  • A doctor who treats cancer (oncologist)
  • A doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer (radiation oncologist)
  • A surgeon who specializes in operations involving the digestive tract
  • A doctor who diagnoses and treats digestive conditions (gastroenterologist)

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions, such as restricting your diet.
  • List your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to the reason you scheduled the appointment.
  • List key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors.
  • List all of your medications, vitamins and supplements, including doses.
  • Ask a relative or friend to accompany you, to help you remember what the doctor says.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Do I have pancreatic cancer?
  • What is the stage of my cancer?
  • Will I need additional tests?
  • Can my cancer be cured?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Can any treatment help me live longer?
  • What are the potential risks of each treatment?
  • Is there one treatment you think is best for me?
  • What advice would you give a friend or a family member in my situation?
  • What is your experience with pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment? How many surgical procedures for this type of cancer are done each year at this medical center?
  • I'm experiencing these signs and symptoms. What can be done to help me feel more comfortable?
  • What clinical trials are available for pancreatic cancer? Am I eligible for any?
  • Am I eligible for molecular profiling of my cancer?
  • Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • How severe are your symptoms? Are they occasional or continuous?
  • Does anything improve or worsen your symptoms?
April 29, 2017
References
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  3. Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Carcinoma of the pancreas. In: Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 3, 2016.
  4. What you need to know about cancer of the pancreas. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/pancreas. Accessed June 3, 2016.
  5. Distress management. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed June 3, 2016.
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  8. Tee MC, et al. Laparoscopic pancreaticoduodenectomy: Is it an effective procedure for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma? Advances in Surgery. 2015;49:143.
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