Pancreas and Biliary Neoplasm
VCU Massey Cancer Center's Pancreas and Biliary Neoplasm Program is Virginia’s leading resource for pancreatic and biliary cancer care, and the first of its kind in the Richmond area. We understand that a pancreatic cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming for patients and their loved ones, which is why we have coordinated our schedules so that all specialists are available to meet with patients in one day in the same clinic within one week of your referral. Your treatment plan is suggested by a multidisciplinary team of nationally-renown experts, not by a single doctor. And because Massey is Richmond's only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, you also have access to cutting-edge clinical trials and the most advanced treatment options available.
Your premier provider for pancreas and biliary cancers
You want the best, most experienced health care providers on your side when you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a pancreatic disease. Our patient-centered, multidisciplinary approach is what sets the VCU Massey Cancer Center Pancreas and Biliary Neoplasm Program apart from other providers. By bringing together specialists from a variety of disciplines to see patients on the same day in the same clinic, less time is wasted commuting, scheduling and waiting for multiple appointments. This efficient, coordinated care helps reduce treatment delays, lessens anxiety and leads to the best possible outcomes for our patients.
We want for our patients to focus on healing and not scheduling appointments and coordinating treatment, which is why your appointment will be scheduled within one week of your referral and your care will be coordinated by our nurse navigator. The nurse navigator will contact you and meet you and your family on the day of your first appointment to guide you through imaging and lab tests. If necessary, you will also see a nutritionist and social worker on the same day. As you break for lunch, a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, gastroenterologists, pathologists, radiologists and radiation and medical oncologists will meet to evaluate your tests and medical history and recommend the best course of treatment for you. After lunch, you will consult with the appropriate specialists and leave with all the necessary information about your diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.
Hallmarks of Massey’s pancreatic program
Choose VCU Massey Cancer Center for your pancreas and biliary cancer treatment because our care is:
Our doctors have unparalleled knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating all types of pancreas and biliary cancers and pancreatic cysts. As gastrointestinal cancer experts subspecializing in the pancreas, they are specifically trained in and dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
The Massey Pancreas Program offers an integrative approach with a full range of treatment options that support patients' strength and well-being while improving their quality of life through treatment, recovery and survivorship. Additionally, you have access to clinical trials testing new and promising treatments that are only available at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers like Massey. We also offer comprehensive support services that range from helping minimize symptoms and side effects to helping cope with the cognitive, emotional and psychological effects of cancer.
Cancer care generally requires multiple forms of therapy and various specialized doctors. At Massey, our specialists collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to coordinate all aspects and stages of patient care, and conveniently provide that care in one location. Massey pioneered the region’s multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, which combines the expertise of many doctors. This approach ensures that you will receive the ideal combination and sequence of treatment.
Recognizing that each patient is unique and each type of cancer is different, Massey provides treatment strategies and care plans tailored and individualized to you. Additional pancreas patients will have direct access to our nurse navigator who will provide guidance as they move through the health care system.
Through respectful, attentive and compassionate care, Massey’s cancer care team builds healing relationships with patients that help reduce suffering and death from cancer.
Advanced, comprehensive treatment options
Research has shown that treating pancreatic cancer successfully often requires multiple modalities, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other therapies. VCU Massey Cancer Center offers these approaches as well as new and promising treatments in clinical trials only available at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers like Massey.
As part of VCU Health, an academic medical center with one of Virginia’s top-rated hospitals, our specialists work hand-in-hand with genetic counselors, nutritionists, endoscopists and, in rare cases, transplant specialists.
Additional advanced treatment options include:
- Whipple procedure—A Whipple procedure, also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy, is a complex surgery in which the “head” of the pancreas is removed along with the first part of the small intestine, or duodenum, a portion of the gallbladder and sometimes part of the stomach. The remaining intestine, gallbladder and pancreas is then reconnected. The Whipple procedure has been shown to extend the life of, and sometimes cure, patients whose tumors are confined to the head of the pancreas and have not spread to neighboring organs.
- Neoadjuvant therapy—Neoadjuvant therapy incorporates chemotherapy or radiation therapy prior to surgery in order to reduce the size of the tumor. This may improve surgical outcomes, or allow patients who were not candidates for surgery to become eligible. Massey is currently conducting clinical trials to optimize neoadjuvant radiation therapy in order to improve surgical outcomes.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery–Stereotactic radiosurgery uses numerous precisely focused radiation beams to deliver high doses of radiation to the tumor with minimal exposure to healthy surrounding tissue. Massey's radiation oncologists specialize in this procedure, which can effectively treat pancreatic cancer after primary treatment such as surgery. Learn more about stereotactic radiosurgery.
- TrueBeam–The TrueBeam linear accelerator incorporates the latest image-guided radiation therapy technologies and higher dose rates to more accurately target tumors while sparing healthy tissue, reducing side effects and decreasing treatment times. With advanced imaging techniques, physicians can monitor and adapt to changes in a patient’s anatomy caused by the radiation therapy to personalize treatment plans based on each patient’s unique physiology. The optical camera system even allows physicians to see patient motion during treatments so they can monitor radiation delivery and adjust as needed. Learn more about TrueBeam.
- Clinical trials – Massey also offers a wide range of clinical trials for both newly diagnosed and relapsed patients – some trials that are not found elsewhere. Our trials test new anti-cancer therapies and ways to minimize common cancer-related symptoms. These trials provide access to investigational agents and new, innovative therapies that may help increase the chance for successful treatment. Learn more.
Coordinated, expert care for pancreas and biliary cancers
What makes the VCU Massey Cancer Center Pancreas and Biliary Neoplasm Program stand out is the high level of coordination between experts in a variety of fields. This multidisciplinary model includes surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, radiologists, endoscopists, pathologists, nutritionists, genetic counselors, clinical research nurses, social workers and more who meet every week under one roof to collaborate and coordinate each patient’s care. Many of our doctors are also engaged in clinical research and teaching, keeping them on the cutting edge of the most advanced procedures and treatment options.
Select from the list below to learn more about your care team and their education, training and specific areas of clinical expertise.
Massey’s medical oncologists are on faculty in the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care in the Department of Internal Medicine of the VCU School of Medicine at VCU Health.
- Anna Nizinski, N.P.
Others who may be part of your health care team include attending and resident physicians, fellows, palliative care specialists, transplant specialists, rehabilitation specialists (physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists), social workers, genetic counselors, psychologists, chaplains, nutritionists, care partners, clerks and other specialists as needed.
At VCU Massey Cancer Center, you’ll have access to the most advanced therapies and the latest technologies. Some of these therapies were discovered and developed right here at Massey, where our doctors collaborate closely with our research scientists to bring new research breakthroughs to our patients in the form of clinical trials.
Clinical trials are research studies that help discover new and better ways to prevent, diagnose, treat and cure diseases. With one of the largest menus of cancer clinical trials in Virginia, we offer patients expanded treatment options and new hope every day.
The following are clinical trials currently available to pancreatic cancer patients at Massey:
- A221303—Randomized study of early palliative care integrated with standard oncology care versus standard oncology care alone in patients with incurable non-colorectal gastrointestinal malignancies
- MCC-12-07328—A Phase 1 study of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, followed by concurrent chemoradiation with gemcitabine, sorafenib and vorinostat in pancreatic cancer
- MCC-13-09812—Phase 1 study of regorafenib and sildenafil for advanced solid tumors
- MCC-15-11150—Informal caregiver burden in later stage cancer: economic and health outcomes
- MCC-16-12876—Improving symptom self-management in adolescents and young adults with cancer
- NCI-9881—A Phase 2 study of cediranib in combination with olaparib in advanced solid tumors
- NRG-CC001—A randomized Phase 3 trial of memantine and whole-brain radiotherapy with or without hippocampal avoidance in patients with brain metastases
Discuss with your doctor whether a clinical trial is right for you. For a full list of clinical research studies currently open at Massey, search our database of clinical trials.
At VCU Massey Cancer Center, we believe that treating the whole person, not just the disease, is the best way to care for patients and family members coping with cancer. We take a holistic approach to address not just your medical and physical needs, but also your psychological, emotional and social needs. We offer comprehensive cancer support services to care for you throughout your cancer journey that range from helping minimize symptoms and side effects to helping evaluate and cope with the emotional and psychological effects of cancer. These services include:
• Integrative health resources, including acupressure, art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy and tobacco cessation counseling. Complementary therapies are not substitutes for medical care but are used together with medical treatments to help patients alleviate stress and anxiety, reduce pain, manage symptoms and promote a feeling of well-being.
• Financial assistance for qualifying patients in need
• Genetic counseling by board-certified genetic counselors in Richmond’s only Familial Cancer Clinic
• Legal assistance for qualifying patients in need
• Lodging for qualifying patients in need
• Patient education, including libraries and health programming geared to cancer patients and their caregivers
• Pharmacy services, including in-hospital oncology pharmacies
• Psychological counseling
• Rehabilitation by one of the nation’s longest-running cancer rehabilitation programs with physical, occupational and speech therapy especially geared for cancer patients
• Spiritual counseling
• Social work for patients in need
• Transportation assistance for qualifying patients in need – ask your social worker for more information
• Wig salons that provide free hats, scarves and wigs as well as private head-wear consultation services
Treatments in clinical trials may be more effective or have fewer side effects than the treatments that are currently available.Learn more about clinical trials »