Pancreatic Cancer Treatments to Consider

Posted on: 10 May 2017

Getting a diagnosis from your doctor telling you that you have pancreatic cancer is unsettling, to say the least. Because of this, it can be difficult to wrap your head around the facts. It's important that you know what type of treatments are available to you, and what each treatment entails so that you can decide which course of action to take. Learn more about the different pancreatic cancer treatment options that you should be discussing with your doctor.

Whipple Procedure

The Whipple procedure is the most common pancreatic surgery available for patients who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that is considered respectable, which means that the entire tumor can be removed safely. During surgery, your surgeon will remove portions of the head of the pancreas.

Sometimes a portion of the body of the pancreas, part of the stomach and small intestine, the gallbladder, some of your lymph nodes, or the common bile duct is also removed. However, the portions of your body that need to be removed aren't determined completely until the surgeon looks inside your abdomen. Unfortunately, around 50 percent of the time, surgeons open a person's abdomen only to find that cancer has spread and the tumor can't be removed.

If you are able to have the tumor removed, your doctor may suggest that chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments begin before the surgery in an attempt to shrink the tumor. There's also a good chance that you'll have to undergo one or both of the treatments after your surgery to help prevent the tumor from growing again.

Chemotherapy and Radiation

Chemotherapy and radiation, or a combination of the two, are typically used to treat patients with pancreatic cancer that's unrespectable—meaning the entire tumor can't be removed safely. In this case, the goal is to shrink the tumor, if possible, and prevent cancer from spreading any further. In addition to one or both of these treatments, your doctor should also have you on a plan for pain management to help you cope with any pain you're experiencing.

Nanoknife Procedure

Nanoknife cancer surgery is a newer treatment that's typically used to treat pancreatic cancer patients who are in advanced stages of cancer. During the minimally invasive procedure, up to six long, thin needles are inserted into your body in strategic places surrounding your tumor. Then, electric pulses are sent between the needles, which causes nanometer-size holes in the tumor. This causes the cancer cells in the tumor to become unbalanced, hopefully destroying the tumor completely.

The entire procedure typically lasts between two and four hours, and you should expect to be on a round of antibiotics after the procedure to help prevent infection. The good news is, while a newer form of treatment, the appropriate use of the Nanoknife procedure in selected advanced pancreatic cancer patients results in a median survival rate of 24 months—double the survival rate of chemoradiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is scary. However, it's important that you try your best to stay calm so that you can stay focused while discussing your treatment options with your doctor. To learn more about your ideal options, contact services like ATLAS ONCOLOGY.