Pancreatic Care Alliance

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Treatment options for pancreatic cancer

Treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients differ from patient to patient, and are based on several factors, including stage and location of cancer, the age of the patient, and general health.

Advanced pancreatic cancer can only rarely be treated with the aim of curing the cancer. However, a combination of therapies can be used to prevent the tumour from spreading, to relieve symptoms and to maintain a better quality of life.

There are several treatment options for pancreatic cancer, including surgery, endoscopic treatment, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

  • Surgery – The most common surgical procedure is the ‘Whipple Procedure’. In this procedure, the head of the pancreas is removed, along with some part of the duodenum, gall bladder and bile duct. Enough of the pancreas is left to maintain some function. Surgery can also involve the removal of the head and tail of the pancreas, or complete removal of the pancreas.

  • Endoscopic treatment – If the tumour is blocking the bile duct, a stent may be inserted to allow bile to drain from the liver.

  • Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays which shrink or destroy cancer cells in the tumour. This therapy may be used to treat cancer that has not spread but cannot be removed with surgery. It may also be used to relieve symptoms. The most common form used to treat pancreatic cancer is external beam radiation therapy.

  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy, often used in combination with radiotherapy, involves the use of anti-cancer drugs to prevent the cancer cells from dividing.

For more information about pancreatic cancer treatment options, visit http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/pancreatic-cancer/treatment/

For the latest from Garvan’s pancreatic cancer researchers, visit www.garvan.org.au/research/our-work/cancer-pancreatic

For the latest from AGITG, visit http://agitg.org.au/clinical-trials/trials-open-to-recruitment/impact/