Pancreatic Surgery

This information is useful for adults
Pancreatic Surgery
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Yale Medicine performs more than 100 pancreatic procedures each year, making it the highest-volume center for pancreatic surgery in the state of Connecticut.
  • Patients benefit from access to innovative new treatments and cutting-edge clinical trials.
  • We provide a collaborative, team approach, with expertise in such areas as diagnostic imaging, pathology, gastroenterology, surgery, medical and radiation oncology and cancer genetics.

Most people never give a moment’s thought to the purpose and operation of their pancreas. Part of the digestive system, this small organ is deep within the abdomen, near the spine. It produces and releases enzymes that break down nutrients from food and delivers them throughout the body. It also creates hormones, such as insulin, to regulate metabolism.

If pancreatic problems develop, they can be quite serious. Some conditions respond well to medicines, but many require surgical treatment. Because the pancreas is hard to reach, pancreatic surgery is challenging and requires a high level of expertise.

At Yale Medicine, “Our surgeons are uniquely equipped to guide people through the process, including not only the surgical procedure, but also the transition back to health,” says Ronald R. Salem, MD, Lampman Professor of Surgery (oncology) at the Yale School of Medicine and Yale Medicine section chief of surgical oncology.

It is estimated that 53,070 people developed pancreatic cancer in 2016 and 41,780 will die from it, making it the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

One reason this type of cancer is considered so lethal is that early-stage pancreatic cancer rarely causes any symptoms. It’s not usually detected until the disease is advanced. Symptoms of later-stage pancreatic disease may include weight loss, abdominal pain, and jaundice.

People with new-onset diabetes are at higher risk for pancreatic cancer. Rates are also high in women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer gene.