What you need to know

Treatment of pancreatic cancer can involve complex surgery. It is recommended that you:

  • See a specialist who is a member of a multidisciplinary team. You can ask your GP to refer you.
  • Have your surgery at a recommended hospital.

What is pancreatic cancer?

The pancreas is a small organ that produces hormones and enzymes. These enzymes help you to digest food. Pancreatic cancer starts when cells in the pancreas become abnormal. These cells divide and grow to form a cancer.

Graphic of a human body highlighting the pancreas

Who do I see for diagnosis and treatment?

If your GP suspects you have pancreatic cancer, they will refer you to a gastroenterologist, oncologist or hepatopancreaticobiliary (HPB) surgeon.

The specialist should:

  • have experience in treating pancreatic cancer
  • be an active member of a multidisciplinary team

All the specialists listed on Canrefer are members of multidisciplinary teams.

Why are multidisciplinary teams important?

A multidisciplinary team is a team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Team members meet regularly to discuss their patients. They plan treatment for new cancer patients and review treatment for existing patients.

Multidisciplinary teams are important. Team members work together to decide the best treatments for patients.

You can ask your GP to refer you to a specialist who is part of a multidisciplinary team. Talk to your GP about this. All specialists on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.

Whats tests do I need?

You may have some of the tests listed below to diagnose pancreatic cancer:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging - ultrasound, CT scan and/or MRI scan
  • Endoscopy
  • Laparoscopy

What treatment will I have?

Treatment for pancreatic cancer may include one or all types of these cancer treatments:

  • 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.

Where will I have treatment?

If you need surgery for pancreatic cancer you should have this at one of the hospitals on the list below. These hospitals do regular pancreatic cancer 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.

You may need to travel to have surgery at a recommended hospital. Your Local Health District will have an arrangement in place for this.

You may be able to parts of your treatment closer to home. Please discuss this with your treating specialist.

Travel assistance for rural patients

If you live in a rural area and need help to travel for your treatment visit NSW Government IPTAAS for more information.

How common is pancreatic cancer in NSW?

Pancreatic cancer was diagnosed in:

  • 1020
    People in NSW in 2012
  • 1029
    People in NSW in 2011
  • 947
    People in NSW in 2010

Data Source: Annual NSW cancer incidence and mortality dataset, 2012 (sourced from the Cancer Institute NSW)

Recommended hospitals

See which hospitals are recommended for pancreatic cancer surgery. 

Cancer information and support

Speak to a specialist health professional about anything to do with cancer.

Phone 13 11 20.

Cancer Council NSW
Questions for your specialist

Find out some key questions to ask your specialist at your first appointment.

Questions you can ask
Booklet about pancreatic cancer

Understanding Pancreatic Cancer is a booklet for people with cancer, their families and friends. 

Cancer Council NSW