Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
Treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on the type, extent, and location of the cancer. Pancreatic cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments. The goal of pancreatic cancer treatments is to cure the cancer and relieve symptoms. If a cure is not possible, the goal of treatments is to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Surgery may be used to remove pancreatic tumors. A Whipple procedure, a pancreaticoduodenectomy, is a surgery that removes the head of the pancreas, sections of the stomach and small intestine, common bile duct, gallbladder, and regional lymph nodes. The pancreas and common bile duct are reattached to the small intestine. Another type of surgery may be used for people with a bile obstruction. Surgery and the placement of a biliary stent may be used to relieve an obstruction or blockage.
Radiation therapy uses high energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy may be received before a surgery to reduce the size of a tumor. It may be received after surgery to help prevent the cancer from returning. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be used to treat cancer that has spread.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be used alone to treat early stage pancreatic cancer or in combination with other treatment methods. Chemotherapy may be combined with targeted therapy drugs for people with advanced pancreatic cancer.
The experience of cancer and cancer treatments may be a very emotional experience for you and your loved ones. It is important to embrace positive sources of support. Some people find comfort in their families, friends, co-workers, counselors, and faith. Cancer support groups are a helpful resource where you can receive support, information, and understanding from people with similar experiences. Ask your doctor for support groups near you.
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