Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
determine the most appropriate treatment for your situation, your doctor will consider the stage and type of
cancer you have. In addition, he will consider your age and your health in general. Knowing this information, he
will be able to determine which treatment is most effective to fight the cancer. After all, you will be invited
to participate in the final choice.
Pancreatic cancer treatment
is primarily surgery; in most cases, particularly when the cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage,
chemotherapy as well as radiation therapy can be combined with surgery to increase your chances of
Surgical removal is the
most effective treatment for a cancer that is confined to the pancreas. Unfortunately, nearly 90% of pancreatic
cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, making surgical intervention difficult or even impossible.
Sometimes, the surgery is performed as a palliative treatment to improve the life of the patient. This is
applicable in the case of a tumor compressing the duodenum, which makes difficult the passage of foods in the
intestine. The surgery aims to derive the biliary duct or stomach directly into the small
Usually, one of these three
types of surgery is performed to remove the cancer from the pancreas:
- Whipple's surgery – this surgical procedure is performed in cases of a
cancer located in the head of the
pancreas, the widest part of the
pancreas. In this case, your surgeon removes the head of the pancreas and part of the small intestine, bile
duct and stomach. After the removal, your surgeon will connect the stomach to the intestine, as well as
anastomosis of the bile duct into the small intestine; the remaining pancreas is connected to either the
stomach or the small intestine, to allow the flow of bile and pancreatic juice into the gastrointestinal
- Distal pancreatectomy - during the surgery, the body and tail of the
pancreas are removed if the tumor is located in one of these two regions. In addition, your surgeon will
remove your spleen.
pancreatectomy – this
is a major surgical intervention reserved for very advanced pancreatic cancer. During the operation, the
entire pancreas, part of the small intestine, part of the stomach, bile duct, gall bladder, spleen, and
nearby lymph nodes are removed. Total pancreatectomy is rarely performed, because it often leads to
lifelong adverse effects – for instance,
inability to produce pancreatic enzyme and insulin.
Radiotherapy is use of
ionizing radiation (subatomic particles or electromagnetic waves) to treat cancer. The therapy shrinks or
eliminates the tumor by stopping the development or division of cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, which acts on
cancer cells throughout the body, radiotherapy is a local treatment that acts on a specific area. The radiation
is often performed after the surgery. Radiation therapy is painless procedure, and cause minimal or no side
In the treatment of
pancreatic cancer, chemotherapy is often used after the surgery. Chemotherapy can also be used to treat advanced
pancreatic cancers for which surgery is not possible. Unlike surgery and radiotherapy, chemotherapy is a
systemic treatment that affects the entire organism. The chemotherapy drugs designed to destroy cancer cells or
prevent them from multiplying. These drugs can be taken by mouth, infusion or injection.
However, chemotherapy drugs
affect both cancer cells and healthy cells that divide rapidly, which often lead to side
- hair loss
- and more…
Targeted cancer therapy
is less harmful to normal cells, and can be very effective in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Targeted therapy
drugs stop multiplication of cancer cells by interfering with specific targeted molecules that they need to
survive. The drug used in the treatment of pancreatic cancer can be an antibody against a gene expressed at the
surface or in the cancer cell, or a molecule capable of blocking the transmission of the signal of cell division.
The drug may also be antibody directed against the new vessels produced by the tumor to feed. Targeted therapy can
be administered sometimes alone, sometimes in combination with chemotherapy or radiation.
Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates