Digestive Disorders Center

Pancreas Program


Referral Center

Referral center for severe pancreatic conditions

The Pancreas Program at Northwest Community Healthcare features a team of experts with more experience than any other program in Chicago. NCH has become a referral center for complex pancreatic procedures, including the Whipple procedure. Our compassionate, personalized care allows us to provide the best treatment for pancreas cancer symptoms, pancreatitis, jaundice and diseases of the liver, pancreas and bile ducts.

Pancreas Cancer

Pancreas cancer

NCH has better diagnostic tests and newer treatments that are providing a more optimistic future for patients diagnosed with pancreas cancer, including the Whipple procedure, one of the best treatments in Chicago.


Pancreatitis – know the symptoms

An inflammation of the pancreas, pancreatitis can develop suddenly or be ongoing. 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.

Common symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Dropping blood pressure
  • Fast pulse
  • Fever
  • General ill feeling
  • Nausea
  • Severe pain in the upper abdomen
  • Swelling in the upper abdomen
  • Vomiting
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NCH in the News

NCH doctor operates on patient, then fulfills his lifelong dream

Malcolm Bilimoria, M.D., says early detection was key in the case of Ken Brown, a pancreatic cancer survivor who underwent the Whipple procedure. Find out what the doctor/patient duo planned to do following treatment.

Read more about their journey

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Diagnostic Tests

Full range of diagnostic tests

At Northwest Community Healthcare’s Pancreas Program, we offer the full range of tests to diagnose your condition, including:

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Pancreas Cancer Treatments

Most complex pancreas cancer and pancreatic disease treatments

At Northwest Community Healthcare, we have the medical expertise and technology necessary to tackle even the most difficult pancreas cancer, pancreatitis, and liver and bile duct cancer cases.

Treatment for pancreatitis

Treatment for acute pancreatitis requires a few days’ stay in the hospital for intravenous (IV) fluids, antibiotics and medication to relieve pain. To allow the pancreas to rest, the patient is not allowed to eat or drink. Unless complications arise, acute pancreatitis usually resolves in a few days. In severe cases, the patient may require feeding via a tube for several weeks while the pancreas heals.

Treatment for pancreas cancer

Surgery is the only way to remove pancreatic tumors. It is performed only when the surgeon believes all of the cancer can be removed. An ultrasound of the liver or exploratory surgery generally is performed to determine the stage of the cancer or to look for signs of metastatic disease. If the cancer is in a later stage, surgery is performed only to relieve symptoms such as pain and obstructions.

The type of surgery recommended depends upon where the tumor is located in the pancreas. Tumors located in the head and neck area of the pancreas are removed with the Whipple procedure; those in the body and tail of the pancreas are removed with distal pancreatectomy. A total pancreatectomy is performed less frequently.

Other pancreas cancer treatment options

Depending on the stage of the cancer and whether it has spread, non-surgical treatments may be recommended instead of surgery or in addition to it. NCH is committed to providing the right treatment for the stage of cancer.

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Clinical Trials

Research and Clinical Trials

To provide the latest and most advanced medical treatments for pancreas cancer and pancreatitis, we participate in national research programs and clinical trials.

View Research and Clinical Trials

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Multidisciplinary Team of Specialists

If you are diagnosed with a pancreatic disease, like pancreatitis or pancreas cancer, our expert team will provide a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan. When creating and implementing your treatment plan, a multidisciplinary team of specialists will work together, including:

  • Board-certified surgeons
  • Endocrinologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Pathologists
  • Radiation oncologists

Throughout your journey with pancreas cancer, you will receive the support of a patient navigator, physician assistant, social worker and dietitian, to help you and your family.

NCH Team Member

Malcolm Bilimoria, M.D.

Dr. Bilimoria is an expert in the Whipple procedure, considered one of the most complex abdominal surgeries. For many pancreas cancer patients, the Whipple procedure can increase survival and offers a real chance at a cure. As a fellowship-trained surgical oncologist specializing in pancreatic and hepatobiliary surgeries, Dr. Bilimoria performs 75 to 100 Whipple surgeries each year.

NCH Team Member

Willis Parsons, M.D.

Dr. Parsons is medical director of the Digestive Disorders Center at Northwest Community Healthcare. He specializes in advanced interventional GI procedures and the management of pancreaticobiliary disease. Dr. Parsons completed his residency and fellowship at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, followed by an interventional endoscopy fellowship with Douglas Howell, M.D., at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

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