Pancreatic Cancer Specialist

Joshua Ellenhorn, M.D., FACS

Board Certified General Surgeon & Surgical Oncologist located in CEDARS SINAI MEDICAL TOWERS, LOS ANGELES, CA

Pancreatic cancer doesn’t often cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages, and by the time it does, you’re likely to need surgery. Surgical oncologist Joshua Ellenhorn, MD, is a leading surgeon practicing in Beverly Grove, nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, who specializes in using minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic-assisted techniques to treat conditions like pancreatic cancer. Call Dr. Ellenhorn today to find out more, or book an appointment using the online form.

Pancreatic Cancer Q & A

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer affects an organ called the pancreas, which is a pear-shaped gland in your abdomen measuring around six inches long. If cells in your pancreas mutate, they can multiply out of control, resulting in a cancerous tumor.

Your pancreas makes digestive juices that aid in the breakdown of the food you eat. It also produces hormones like insulin that regulate sugar levels in your blood and help your body use and store energy.

Pancreatic cancer comes in two forms. Endocrine pancreatic cancer first starts in the cells that produce hormones. Exocrine pancreatic cancer starts in the cells that make your digestive juices. Around 95% of pancreatic cancers are exocrine.


How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?

Pancreatic cancer can be hard to find, especially in the early stages. Tests Dr. Ellenhorn might use to diagnose pancreatic cancer include:

  • Blood chemistry studies
  • Tumor marker test
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan 
  • PET scan 
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC)
  • Fine needle biopsy


Pancreatic cancer often causes no symptoms in the early stages, and any symptoms you do have might be easy to mistake for something else.

As cancer progresses, you might start to notice a yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice), abdominal pain, unexpected weight loss, fatigue, and loss of appetite. You might also have dark urine and light-colored stools.


How is pancreatic cancer treated?

Pancreatic cancer treatment typically consists of a combination of therapies, which could include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Dr. Ellenhorn has significant expertise in treating patients with pancreatic cancer. He’s a pioneer in minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgery for pancreatic cancer, including robotic spleen preserving distal pancreatectomy.

Pancreatic cancer can sometimes be aggressive, multiplying, and spreading quickly. Dr. Ellenhorn might perform aggressive vascular resection and reconstruction if you have locally advanced pancreatic cancer. You could benefit from having chemotherapy and radiation treatment before or after your surgery.

Dr. Ellenhorn is also an expert in carrying out pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple procedure). The Whipple procedure involves removing the head of the pancreas or sometimes the whole organ. Parts of the bile duct, stomach, and duodenum might also need removing to ensure no cancerous cells are left behind.

Find out more about the latest treatments for pancreatic cancer by calling Joshua Ellenhorn, MD, today or book an appointment online.

Robotic Spleen Preserving Distal Pancreatectomy