Pancreatic Cancer: Treatment
While standard protocols have been established for the treatment of virtually all cancers, doctors will often modify them for their individual patients. These modifications are based on many factors including the patient’s age, general health, desired results, and the specific characteristics of the cancer. Since the treatments described in this report represent the standard therapeutic approaches, your physician may not strictly adhere to them.
Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat. Several types of treatments are in use, and more than one type of treatment may be used. However, the overall effectiveness at prolonging life after diagnosis is minimal. For example, after surgical resection, 8 out of 10 patients will have recurrence in 5 years. Some treatments are performed not with the hope of cure or prolonging survival time, but in the hope of relieving symptoms.
When considering treatments for pancreatic cancer, you and your doctor will want to weigh the chance of lengthening your life span versus the disruption to your quality of life due to the rigors of a particular treatment. For example, you may opt not to undergo a particular treatment if your prognosis is poor and if the side effects are great.
Treatment may involve any combination of the following:
- 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 government website ClinicalTrials.gov.
Last reviewedSeptember 2014by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.