Treatment of pancreatic cancer depends greatly on the type, location and the stage of the cancer. It will also depend on other factors such as your age, medical history, and general health and also your personal preference for certain kinds of treatment. The aim of treatment is to ideally remove the tumour as well as any other cancerous cells that may have developed in your body. However if this is not possible, due to the stage of your cancer for instance, then the aim will be to lessen symptoms and prevent the tumour from growing, spreading and causing greater damage.
Treatment for pancreatic cancer can include one or a combination of the following options:
The most ideal aim surgical treatment for cancer aims to cure cancer by removing the tumour. However this is only possible in about 15% to 20% of patients when the cancer is caught at an earlier stage where it has not spread extensively and become inoperable. If your cancer has progressed, and the tumour has wrapped itself around crucial blood vessels, then the aim of surgery intervention would not be to cure but to lesson or prevent further symptoms of the tumour. There are several different possible kinds of surgery.
Whipple Procedure – The most common of surgery for pancreatic cancer is called the whipple procedure. The procedure involves removing the “head” (the wide opening) of your pancreas. Surgery can also be used to remove the duodenum (which is a portion of the bile duct), the gallbladder, and occasionally part of the stomach. The remaining part of the intestine, bile duct, and pancreas will be reconnected by your surgeon.
Distal pancreatectomy – This procedure involves removing the “tail” and the “body” of your pancreas. Usually, your spleen will also be removed during surgery. Other removals during surgery may include a portion of your stomach, bowl, left adrenal gland, left diaphragm or left kidney.
Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment which contains anti-cancer medications in order to either kill cancerous (malignant) cells that have developed in your body or to stop them from multiplying. This kind of treatment is often given alongside radiotherapy and surgical intervention for pancreatic cancer.