Important information

A person with a suspected pancreatic cancer should be referred to a gastroenterologist, oncologist or hepatopancreaticobiliary (HPB) surgeon who is a member of the multidisciplinary team at one of the 17 specialist centres for pancreatic cancer surgery1.

‚ÄčAll specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.


What is cancer of the pancreas?

Pancreatic cancer starts in the cells of the pancreas. This is a small organ that produces hormones and enzymes. These enzymes help to digest food. 

Graphic of a human body highlighting the pancreas


What tests are needed?

Common tests used to diagnose pancreatic cancer include:

  • physical examination
  • blood tests
  • imaging - ultrasound, CT scan and/or MRI scan
  • endoscopy
  • laparoscopy.


What treatment options are there?

Treatment for pancreatic cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy.

Pancreatic cancer surgery is very complex. It requires a special team of health care professionals with a lot of experience doing this type of surgery. Research shows that it is better to have complex surgery at hospitals that do a lot of this type of surgery. Patients have fewer complications, less risk of early death, and better overall survival.

Patients who need surgery for pancreatic cancer should have this at one of the hospitals on the list below, which meet the minimum suggested annual caseload for pancreatic cancer surgery.1

Patients may need to travel to have surgery at a specialist centre for pancreatic surgery. The local health district will have an arrangement in place for this. Patients may still be able to have other parts of their treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, closer to home. This should be discussed with the treating specialist.


How common is pancreatic cancer in NSW?

Pancreatic cancer was diagnosed in:

  • 2011
    1031 people in NSW
  • 2012
    1039 people in NSW
  • 2013
    1006 people in NSW

Data Source: Annual NSW cancer incidence and mortality dataset, 2013 (sourced from the Cancer Institute NSW)