The center for hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery at Karolinska is the largest of its kind in Sweden, with around 550 oncological surgical procedures being performed annually. Karolinska University Hospital is a tertiary referral center for the region and receives referrals from other counties in Sweden. In addition, Karolinska University Hospital has been selected as one of two Swedish centers for further national centralization of the treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer and perihilar cholangiocarcinoma. There is an ongoing focus on the development of minimally invasive surgery with an increasing number of procedures being performed in the most modern robotic system available, the Intuitive XI system. A huge effort is put into constantly evaluating our results, as documented by many academic publications in the field.
Common symptoms of pancreatic cancer are jaundice, dark urine or light stool, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and weight, and new-onset diabetes. The symptoms can be diffuse and are often not noticeable until the cancer has spread.
Typically, pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect early in the disease, with no or nonspecific symptoms such as abdominal discomfort in the beginning. At the time of diagnosis, the cancer has frequently already spread to other parts of the body, and only one out of five patients is eligible for treatment with curative intention. Smoking, obesity, diabetes, and a family history of pancreatic cancer are risk factors for getting the disease. The diagnostic process often starts with a CT scan or MRI, and a tumor biopsy may be performed to guide and support different treatments.
Treatment methods for pancreatic cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. The patient’s health condition and how far the cancer has spread determine the suggested treatment plan, and each patient is treated individually based on their specific needs. Precision medicine is one of Karolinska’s cornerstones for treating cancer patients and will be implemented step by step in the treatment routines of pancreatic cancer.
Surgery still represents the primary treatment method for patients with pancreatic cancer. The extent and complexity of the procedures needed to remove the cancer might differ substantially. However, pancreatic surgery generally belongs to a group of complex procedures. The Department of hepato-pancreatico biliary (HPB) surgery has a more than decade-long history of structured multidisciplinary work procedures and highly specialized surgery. Every patient will be discussed at our multidisciplinary tumor conference to achieve the best treatment recommendation. The patient then meets an expert surgeon in the outpatient clinic for further information and planning of the procedure. Expert oncologists are available and involved on demand if there is a need for chemotherapy. The entire treatment path is highly standardized, keeping the patient in the center of everything we do.