Treatment & Care at NCH

Pancreas Care

Main Content Title

The NCH Pancreas Care team combines experience - more than an other in Chicagoland -  with compassionate, personalized care for pancreas cancer to provide the best treatment for pancreas cancer symptoms, pancreatitis, jaundice and diseases of the liver, pancreas and bile ducts.

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, including the Whipple procedure 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.

Detection & Diagnosis
Detection & Diagnosis Content Title

Diagnostic tests for pancreatitis include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Blood tests
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
  • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)

Pancreas cancer

Until recently, little was known about pancreas 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 pancreas cancer, including the Whipple procedure, one of the best treatments in Chicago.

Learn more about Pancreas Cancer Care at NCH

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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


Experienced in the most Complex Pancreas Cancer and Pancreatic Disease Treatments

At Northwest Community Hospital, we have the medical expertise and technology necessary to tackle even the most difficult pancreas cancer, pancreatitis, and liver and bile duct cancer cases. In fact, we provide pancreas cancer patients with the best treatment in Chicago.

Treatment 3

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 3

Treatment for Pancreas Cancer

We are proud to offer pancreas cancer patients the best treatment in Chicago. Surgery is the only way to remove pancreatic tumors. It is performed only when the surgeon believes all of the cancer can be removed, which generally applies only to early stages of the cancer. An ultrasound of the liver or exploratory surgery generally is performed to determine the stage of your 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 your 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. Occasionally a total pancreatectomy is required, though it is used less commonly.

Treatment 1

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. At NCH, we're committed to doing whatever it takes to provide pancreas cancer patients with the best treatment in Chicago.

Treatment 3

Clinical Trials

To make sure that you have access to the latest and most advanced medical treatments for pancreas cancer and pancreatitis, we also participate in national research programs and clinical trials.

Meet the Team

Multidisciplinary team of specialists

At Northwest Community Hospital, if you are diagnosed with a pancreatic disease like pancreatitis or pancreas cancer, you will receive a comprehensive evaluation that incorporates all the resources we have available. We provide the best treatment in Chicago to patients with pancreas cancer and other diseases.

When creating and implementing your treatment plan, a multidisciplinary team of specialists will work together, including:

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

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

Juli Aistars, RN, APN

Dr. Willis Parsons

Medical director of the Gastroenterology Center at Northwest Community Hospital, 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 Dr. Douglas Howell at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

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Juli Aistars, RN, APN

Dr. Malcolm Bilimoria

Dr. Bilimoria is an expert in the Whipple procedure, considered one of the most complex abdominal surgeries in existence, second only to organ transplants. For many pancreas cancer patients, the Whipple procedure can increase survival and offers a real chance at a cure, making it the best treatment in Chicago. As a fellowship-trained surgical oncologist specializing in pancreatic and hepatobiliary surgeries, Dr. Bilimoria has averaged 75 to 100 Whipple surgeries annually, compared to some surgeons who may perform only 10 a year.

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We are committed to building excellence in GI professionals through onsite education. Each year, the Gastroenterology Center hosts onsite workshops led by Dr. Parsons for physicians and nurses to learn the latest technologies and techniques used in interventional GI procedures.

Our multimedia teaching gallery is equipped to teach the latest advances in gastroenterology. It includes stadium seating, high-definition monitor and the ability to live-stream images around the world. NCH has hosted five national courses for nurses and technicians involved with advanced GI procedures and have planned a seventh course in early February 2015.

Our expert physicians have offered numerous lectures to physicians and surgeons to provide education on the complex procedures done at our facility.

Patient Stories
Kevin's Story

Kevin's Story

Kevin became alarmed when he suddenly experienced pain on his right side. At first he attributed the pain to his diet, but after a few trips to the ER Kevin knew it was something bigger.

Click to read Kevin's story

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