The adrenal glands, two small organs located above each kidney, are endocrine glands and produce hormones that help the body control blood sugar and blood pressure, burn protein and fat, and react to stressors like illness or injury. When cancer attacks the adrenal glands, almost all tumors can be removed at Intermountain Cancer Centers with minimally invasive surgery. Both hormone-producing and non-secreting tumors, and adrenocortical carcinomas, are resected with minimally invasive surgery or open techniques as appropriate, including major vascular resections when needed.

The pancreas is an organ deep in the abdomen that produces enzymes to help with the digestion of food and control blood sugar levels. Owing to its location, tumors of the pancreas are difficult to detect, and most symptoms of pancreatic cancer do not appear until the tumor has grown large enough to interfere with the function of the pancreas or other nearby organs—making cancer treatment more involved and complicated.

Treatments and Procedures

Most tumors of the adrenal gland, including rare tumors like pheochromocytomas, aldosterone producing adenomas, and metastatic cancer spread to the adrenal gland, can be treated using minimally invasive approach like laparoscopy.

To treat pancreatic cancers, an advanced surgical method used at Intermountain Cancer Centers is the Whipple procedure, also called a pancreaticoduodenectomy. This technique involves surgical removal of the head of the pancreas (right side), of the duodenum, a portion of the bile duct, the gallbladder, and sometimes part of the stomach. It can be performed with minimally invasive or open techniques depending on the location and size of the tumor. Candidates for this procedure are patients whose cancer has not spread throughout or beyond the hepatobiliary system or into any major blood vessels.

Intermountain also offers distal pancreatectomy procedures, which remove the middle and left side of the pancreas. Other resections and reconstructive procedures are offered through minimally invasive, open, and robotic-assisted techniques, with vascular resections when needed.

Other types of pancreatic tumors that we treat include neuroendocrine neoplasms, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN), mucinous cystadenomas, and pseudopapillary solid cystic neoplasms. These have better prognoses than the standard pancreatic adenocarcinomas and are usually treated with surgery alone.

Patients at Intermountain have access to both national and local pancreatic cancer clinical trials, minimally invasive and open surgery, and robotic-assisted surgery. With pancreatic cancer, medical and radiation oncologists are also usually involved, as many of these complicated tumors require multimodality treatment.