Staff Report

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is now a high-volume hospital for pancreatic surgeries, led by Dr. W. Charles Conway of the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center.

Conway, the first fellowship-trained surgical oncologist to join the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center at Sansum Clinic, performed more than 20 pancreatic surgeries last year at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital to help treat patients with pancreatic cancer.

Due to the complexity of pancreatic surgery, the American Cancer Society strongly recommends that patients who need pancreatic surgery seek out hospitals and physicians with experience and a recorded “high-volume” of at least 15 to 20 pancreatic surgeries a year.

According to the American Cancer Association, surgery offers the only realistic chance to treat pancreatic cancer. Data show high-volume surgeons at high-volume hospitals have higher success rates and fewer complications, including lower mortality rates. 

Pancreatic cancer is sometimes called a “silent” disease because symptoms are rarely noticeable in its early stages, or are vague and can be easy to ignore, including back or stomach pain, bloating, trouble digesting food, unexplained weight loss, and yellowing skin or eyes.