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Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat. Several types of treatments are in use, and more than 1 type of treatment may be used. However, the overall effectiveness at prolonging life after diagnosis is minimal. Recurrence in 5 years is very common. Some treatments are performed to help relieve symptoms.
The treatment plan will often include a combination of approaches based on the characteristics of the cancer, patient's age, general health, and prognosis. You and your doctor will weigh the chance of lengthening your life span versus the disruption to your quality of life due to the rigors of a particular treatment.
Surgical removal of the cancer plus postoperative use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is the only hope for a cure.
It is likely you will have a healthcare team that is made up of doctors, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals. It is important to maintain contact with your medical team, adhere to recommended treatment, and go to any recommended appointments for the best outcomes possible.
Pancreatic cancer treatments include:
- Radiation therapy
- Lifestyle changes
- Managing the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment
Existing treatment protocols have been established and continue to be modified through clinical trials. These research studies are essential to determine whether or not new treatments are both safe and effective. Since highly effective treatments for many cancers remain unknown, numerous clinical trials are always underway around the world. You may wish to ask your doctor if you should consider participating in a clinical trial. You can find out about clinical trials at the US National Institutes of Health website.
Cruz MD, Young AP, et al. Diagnosis and management of pancreatic cancer. Am Fam Physician. 2014;89(8):626-632.
Pancreatic cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003131-pdf.pdf. Accessed October 5, 2015.
Pancreatic cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 23, 2015. Accessed October 5, 2015.
Pancreatic cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/tumors-of-the-gi-tract/pancreatic-cancer. Updated July 2014. Accessed October 5, 2015.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 09/2014
- Update Date: 09/17/2014