Overview

A comprehensive team ready to help you

Diseases of the pancreas are complex and often serious. At UW Health, we have the tools and expertise to treat them.

We also house specialized prevention clinics for those at risk for pancreatic cancer through our Pancreas Cancer Program. There are only a few clinics like these in the country. We offer hope for a condition that too often comes with a grim prognosis.

Here doctors, nurses and others work continuously to protect and restore your health.

Conditions

Conditions we treat

Many conditions — both cancerous and noncancerous — can affect your pancreas.

Your pancreas is a vital organ. It makes enzymes that help with digestion. It also produces hormones, including insulin. You need insulin to turn glucose (sugar) into energy and to keep blood sugar in check.

Cancerous pancreas conditions we treat include:  

  • Bile duct cancer 

  • Exocrine tumors 

  • Endocrine tumors (also known as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors or islet cell tumors)

Noncancerous (benign) pancreas conditions we treat include: 

  • Acute pancreatitis 

  • Chronic pancreatitis 

  • Necrotizing pancreatitis 

  • Neuroendocrine tumors (noncancerous) 

  • Pancreas cysts

  • Pancreatic pseudocysts

Treatments and research

Treatment based on your condition and focused on your needs

Each person’s illness is different. Each person’s treatment is, too. Our team works with you to find the treatment that’s best for you.

If surgery is recommended, we are often able to use a minimally invasive technique. These procedures generally lead to shorter hospital stays and fewer complications than open surgeries.

Treatment for cancer of the pancreas 

Treatments for cancer of the pancreas include: 

  • Chemotherapy 

  • Radiation therapy

    • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy

  • Surgery

    • Pancreatic head resection (Whipple procedure)

    • Pancreatic tail resection

    • Total pancreatectomy with auto-islet transplantation

Treatment for benign pancreas conditions 

Depending on your needs, treatment for noncancerous pancreas conditions may include: 

  • Gallbladder removal for gallstone-related pancreatitis (cholecystectomy) 

  • IV fluids 

  • Medication 

  • Pancreatic duct drainage 

  • Pseudocyst drainage 

  • Surgery

    • Pancreatic head resection (Whipple procedure)

    • Pancreatic tail resection

    • Total pancreatectomy with auto-islet transplantation

Research and clinical trials

Research and clinical trials help us learn more about pancreatic cancer. That knowledge may one day lead to better ways to find, treat and prevent cancer. New treatments being studied in clinical trials may also offer hope to those with limited treatment options.

Learn more about clinical trials at UW Health

Programs and services

Specialized care for prevention and treatment

Centers, clinics and programs at UW Health provide unique care and services for people with pancreas conditions.

Some focus on prevention and early detection. That can be vital with pancreatic cancer because the disease is often found in later stages, when it tends to be more challenging to treat. Others focus on treatment.

Our counselors can help you if you have a strong family history of pancreas problems. They offer advice for you and your family on steps you can take to protect yourself.

Our integrative medicine team offers acupuncture, massage and a variety of other therapies. They focus on helping you achieve your best health in body, mind and spirit.

Dealing with a severe illness is never easy. You may have many doctor appointments and questions. Our nurse navigators are here to help. They serve as your primary contact and are a great source of information. They’ll help answer your questions and make sure you get where you need to be.

Our palliative care team works to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients with serious medical issues and their families. They can help if you’re newly diagnosed or in active treatment. They also work with people nearing the end of life.

Our prevention clinic is for people who have chronic pancreatitis, a family history of pancreas cancer or other strong pancreas cancer risk factors. All of these make a future cancer diagnosis more likely. We closely monitor you to find any cancer that develops as early as we can.

Our Pancreas Mass Clinic is for people with tumors in their pancreas. Even tumors that are not cancerous raise your risk for pancreatic cancer in the future. The clinic’s goal is to find and remove tumors early.

This center is Wisconsin’s only comprehensive cancer center. This designation comes from the National Cancer Institute. It speaks to the high level of care provided here. Experts in all facets of cancer care work together to help you as you face the disease.

Our pancreas transplant program is one of the most active, successful pancreas transplant programs in the world. Since the program began in 1982, our team has completed more than 1,850 pancreas transplants.

Related services

Other programs and services

Meet our team

Expertise you can rely on

At UW Health, you’ll never be alone when you face pancreatic disease.

We have a team of doctors who ensure you get the best care possible. Among them are gastroenterologists, radiologists and cancer specialists. We also have nurses, genetic counselors, nutritionists and social workers. They work together to meet your needs.

Locations

Where to find us

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  • University Hospital - Hepatobiliary Pancreas Clinic
    • 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-7502
    • Closed now
    •  
      View hours, services and more
  • University Hospital - Pancreas Cancer Prevention Clinic
    • 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-7502
    • Closed now
    •  
      View hours, services and more
  • University Hospital - Pancreas Mass Clinic
    • 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-7502
    • Closed now
    •  
      View hours, services and more
  • University Hospital - Pancreas Transplant Clinic
    • 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 262-5420
    • Closed now
    •  
      View hours, services and more

Patient support resources

Learn more, help spread the word

Pancreas cancer task force

The UW Carbone Cancer Center has formed a special pancreatic cancer task force. The goal is to raise awareness and money for improved diagnosis and treatment. Patients, family, friends and others can take part.