Currently, there is no cure for genetic diseases. Our physicians tailor treatments for hereditary pancreatitis according to symptoms. Patients with hereditary pancreatitis are at much higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. So it is vitally important to stop smoking, because tobacco use greatly increases this risk. People with hereditary pancreatitis are encouraged to stop drinking alcohol, as this substance can worsen pain and other symptoms.
When these treatments are not enough, surgery may help alleviate symptoms and improve pancreatic function. Sometimes the pain and other complications associated with hereditary pancreatitis require that the pancreas be removed. UChicago Medicine offers autologous islet cell transplantation, a unique treatment that enables patients with pancreatitis to undergo pancreas resection to alleviate severe pain without the fear of developing brittle diabetes. This option is particularly attractive for patients with hereditary pancreatitis, because patients with this condition are otherwise at a much higher risk of developing pancreas cancer over time. Total pancreatectomy eliminates this risk.
Studies show that patients who have had pancreatic resections by experienced surgeons at hospitals like the UChicago Medicine — where many such procedures are performed every year — fare better than people who have the same procedure at smaller hospitals with a lower volume of cases. UChicago Medicine is home to gastrointestinal surgeons, clinical pancreatologists and islet isolation laboratory specialists who are renowned for their expertise in performing complex pancreatic operations, separating insulin-producing cells and for providing long-term outpatient care.