Gil I. Ascunce, MD -  - Gastroenterologist

Gil I. Ascunce, MD

Gastroenterologist located in Midtown, New York, NY

The pancreas may not be one of the more well-known organs, but it is one of the most important glands in your body. It is responsible for both managing blood sugar by secreting hormones and also for digestion by secreting digestive juices into your small intestine. The pancreas is also vulnerable to insults including sudden or chronic inflammation, cancer, and other conditions that can become dangerous or life-threatening if left untreated. At his New York City practice, board-certified gastroenterologist Gil I. Ascunce, MD, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic disorders. To schedule an appointment at his office in Manhattan on Madison Avenue, call or schedule an appointment online today.

Pancreatitis Q & A

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of your pancreas, an organ in your digestive system located behind the stomach and in front of your spine. The pancreas produces enzymes for digestion and also produces hormones that help your body regulate blood sugar. Pancreatitis can be life-threatening when it occurs suddenly and severely, and this is called acute pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis can also occur gradually over many years, and cause slow injury and dysfunction of the pancreas, and this is called chronic pancreatitis. The most common causes of pancreatitis include consumption of alcohol, and complications of gallstones. Smoking tobacco also contributes to pancreatitis. However, there are many other causes of pancreatitis that require a careful evaluation by an experienced gastroenterologist, like Dr. Gil I. Ascunce.

Mild cases of the disease can pass without treatment or intervention, but severe cases run the risk of developing life-threatening complications.

What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?

Acute pancreatitis usually has the most noticeable symptoms, including:

  • Severe abdominal pain that radiates from the center of your abdomen to your back
  • Fever
  • Elevated pulse
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal tenderness

Because chronic pancreatitis occurs more gradually, it has more subtle symptoms, including:

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhea with oily, smelly stools

If you have persistent abdominal pain, or pain so severe you cannot stand or walk, seek immediate emergency help.

How is pancreatitis treated?

Treatment for pancreatitis usually begins with fasting to rest your bowels and allow your pancreas time to heal.  Pain medication may be required to help you manage your symptoms. In some cases, you may also need intravenous fluids to refill your body fluid status as you recover.

In more severe cases, Dr. Ascunce may recommend a procedure to remove a blockage in your pancreas or drainage of a fluid collection.  You may be advised to have surgery to remove the gallbladder. Because pancreatitis is often caused or exacerbated by alcohol use, eliminating alcohol may be part of your treatment as well.

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is the growth of abnormal and dangerous cells in your pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is often an aggressive disease, spreading quickly to other organs. While there may not be any obvious symptoms, signs of pancreatic cancer can include:

  • Radiating pain in your upper back
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Depression and fatigue
  • New onset Diabetes
  • Blood clots
  • Jaundice: a yellowing of the eyes and skin associated with dark urine and pale stools.

If you notice these symptoms, see Dr. Ascunce for diagnosis and treatment information as soon as possible.

Pancreatic cancer can be treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, depending on the specifics of each case. Talk to Dr. Ascunce to learn more about your options.

If you have questions about pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, or obtaining treatment, call the office of Gil I. Ascunce, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.