Change Type Size Print Friendly Page Email Page

Symptoms, Conditions and Diagnosis

At Northwest Community Hospital, we're committed to providing the best treatment in Chicago to patients with pancreatic diseases like pancreatic cancer. NCH has become a referral center for these complex procedures due to the expertise of NCH's Gastroenterology Center medical director, Dr. Willis Parsons. Patients diagnosed with conditions that would benefit from surgery are often referred to Dr. Malcolm Bilimoria.


Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. The inflammation may be sudden (acute) or ongoing (chronic). The most common causes of pancreatitis are gallstones that block the pancreatic duct, and alcohol abuse, which can lead to blockage of the small pancreatic ductules. The most common symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, fast pulse, feeling ill, fever, swelling in the upper abdomen, dropping blood pressure and severe pain in the upper abdomen.

Diagnostic tests for pancreatitis include:

Pancreatic cancer

Until recently, little was known about pancreatic cancers. However, because of new discoveries in all types of cancer, more research is being focused on causes and treatments. Here at NCH, we now have better diagnostic tests and newer treatments that are providing a more optimistic future for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, including the Whipple procedure, one of the best treatments in Chicago.

Pancreatic cancer symptoms

Many times there are no pancreatic cancer symptoms noticed until the cancer is in an advanced stage. That's why it is important to see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Jaundice with or without itching, dark urine or light stool
  • Back pain, which might be worse after eating or when lying down
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Other illnesses such as diabetes
  • Digestive problems including unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, malnutrition, nausea and/or vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Pancreatitis

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer

Because pancreatic cancer often has few outward symptoms, it’s important to know the possible risk factors for pancreatic cancer. The following factors may increase the chances of pancreatic cancer:

  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity
  • Age 50 or older
  • Race (more common in African Americans)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic swelling of the pancreas
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, dyes and dry cleaning solutions

Diagnostic tests

There are many tests that may be able to detect a tumor or mass. These include:

Before your first appointment, please take a few minutes to complete and print the forms below. This will minimize wait time and help us to better serve you. If you have any questions about the information being requested, contact us at 847.483.9400.

If you or someone you love has pancreatic cancer, find out how you can get the best treatment in Chicago. Call HealthConnection for a referral to a doctor specializing in pancreatic or hepatobiliary diseases at 847.618.4968 (4YOU).

Back To Top
Last Updated 2013/06/28