After diagnosis, additional tests must be performed in order to “stage” the pancreatic cancer. Cancer staging is the process of determining to what extent cancer has spread, including the size of the actual tumor, as well as whether it has invaded other tissues and organs. Pancreatic cancer tends to spread or metastasize to the lymph nodes, liver, and lungs. Staging helps determine the best course of treatment. There are four stages in pancreatic cancer:
- Stage I – The tumor is found only in the pancreas
- Stage II – The tumor has invaded nearby tissue but not nearby blood vessels; the cancer may have reached the lymph nodes
- Stage III – The tumor has invaded nearby blood vessels
- Stage IV – The cancer has spread to a distant organ, typically the liver or the lungs
El Camino Hospital strongly encourages patients to bring a family member or friend along when they meet with their physician to discuss their diagnosis. After receiving a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, some patients may be too anxious or upset to pay close attention or ask questions. Bringing a loved one along to take notes can be very helpful. We understand the emotional impact a cancer diagnosis can have, and our staff, including our navigator, community outreach coordinator, social worker, nutritionist, nurses, and laboratory staff, all work together to make our patients feel comfortable and secure.