If your doctor confirms that you have pancreatic cancer, he or she will do tests to see how aggressive the cancer is and how much it has spread. This is called "staging." Your treatment depends on the cancer's stage. Treatment may include:
In some cases, your doctor may suggest you enroll in a clinical trial. Clinical trials test promising but unproven treatments in patients.
In the rare case that the cancer has not spread outside the pancreas, doctors try to remove the cancer surgically. They may also recommend chemotherapy and or radiation as part of the treatment.
When the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas to nearby organs or other parts of the body, complete cure is unlikely. However, multiple treatments are available to decrease symptoms and prolong survival. You and your cancer specialist can consider how to proceed. Treatment options include:
Even when the cancer appears to be completely removed by surgery, it can come back, either in the pancreas or elsewhere in the body. If it does recur, the cancer can be treated with the same options as listed above.
Page 6 of 9 Next Page: Pancreatic Cancer When to Call A Doctor
From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.
You can find more great health information on the Harvard Health Publications website.