So where is the pancreas anyway?

So I thought I would provide some visual information today.  These images are borrowed from The Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.  This site has a lot of very helpful information, but it’s Frequently Asked Questions about pancreas cancer is really great.  After my biopsy yesterday, the doctor came by to check on me.  I told him I was sore and he pointed out that the pancreas is pretty deep in the chest.  So I went looking for pictures to help ‘visualize’ what he was talking about.  You can click on the first 2 pictures below to get a look at a larger version of the image.

Pancrease - full torsoAs you can see, the pancrease sits below the liver and behind the stomach. It is also in close proximity to the spleen and duodenum (and, if I had gall baldder, the pancreas would be close to it, too).  This image also helps to explain why the doctors talked about the possible need of inserting the biopsy needle through the colon at one point (they didn’t have to in the end).

Pancreas - Close upHere’s a closer view of the pancreas.  As you can see, it rests closely to the duodenum and the common bile duct.  The tumor is on the head of the pancreas and is pressing into the bile duct (which is what first started this crazy journey).

Now, according to the MRI results, my tumor is approximately 3.7 cm in diameter (that makes it just smaller than a walnut). Here is an image that might help to put that into perspective:

Tumor sizes

One last image to show you.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am investigating the possibility of traveling to Johns Hopkins for a second opinion.  Among other things, the folks at Hopkins have 3D CT machines.  Now, I am not a big fan of having cancer, but when I heard that Dr. Cameron (the guy I am trying to get to see) might want to do a 3D CT scan, I thought, “How cool is that?”  Here’s one 3D CT scan of the pancreas.

Pancreas in 3D

At any rate, there is a brief visual presentation about the pancreas.  I’ll write more tomorrow after my ERCP.

Merle