There are many treatment options for pancreatic cancer. Your doctor may suggest a combination of the following:
Surgery: Your doctor will try to surgically remove the entire tumor if possible, which offers the best chance for survival. This may require removing all or part of your pancreas. Afterwards, you may need insulin or dietary enzymes, as well as nutrition counseling. In some cases, you may even need a feeding tube until you’re able to transition back to normal eating.
There are several different types of surgical procedures:
- Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple): This is the most common type of surgery for pancreatic cancer. Your surgeon will remove part of your pancreas, part of your small intestine, your gallbladder, part of your stomach and part of your bile duct.
- Distal pancreatectomy: During this procedure, your surgeon removes a portion of the pancreas as well as the spleen.
- Total pancreatectomy: Your surgeon removes your entire pancreas, part of your small intestine, part of your stomach, part of your bile duct, as well as your gallbladder and spleen. Afterwards, you'll be diabetic and dependent on insulin. You will also need to take pancreatic enzymes with meals to help you digest foods.
- Biliary bypass: If the tumor is blocking your common bile duct, this surgery redirects the flow of bile around the tumor, relieving jaundice.
- Gastric bypass: Sometimes tumors block the portion of your small intestine that connects to your stomach. This surgery will allow food to move past the blockage.
- Stents: If your bile duct, pancreatic duct or duodenum is blocked, these small plastic or metal tubes can be inserted to keep it open. This can be done with the use of an endoscope during an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
Anti-cancer drugs are often used after surgery to try to prevent the cancer from coming back.
: The most common type of radiation therapy used to treat pancreatic cancer is called external beam radiation therapy. Your doctor may recommend either Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy or CyberKnife®