The pancreas is a 6-inch long organ located behind the stomach in the back of the abdomen, near the gall bladder. It contains glands that create pancreatic juices, hormones, and insulin. Cancer can affect either the endocrine or the exocrine glands in the pancreas. The exocrine cells and endocrine cells of the pancreas form different types of tumors. It’s very important to distinguish between exocrine and endocrine cancers of the pancreas. They have distinct risk factors and causes, have different signs and symptoms, are diagnosed using different tests, are treated in different ways, and have different outlooks. Treatment options for people with cancer of the pancreas are surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy. You’ll probably receive more than one type of treatment. The treatment that’s right for you depends mainly on the following: The location of the tumor in your pancreas, whether the disease has spread, your age and general health.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer:
Tumors of the pancreas cancers are usually too small to cause symptoms, and later symptoms are often non-specific. However, when the cancer grows, the symptoms may include:
Types Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer:
Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer: Two general types of surgery can be used for pancreatic cancer:
Embolization Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer:
Ablation and embolization treatments are different ways of destroying tumors, rather than removing them with surgery. They are used much less often for pancreatic cancers but can sometimes be used to help treat pancreatic cancer that has spread to other organs, especially the liver.
Radiation Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer:
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays (or particles) to kill cancer cells. It can be helpful in treating some pancreatic cancers. Radiation might be given after surgery to try to lower the chance of the cancer coming back. The radiation is typically given along with chemotherapy, which is together known as chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy. Radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy may be used as part of the main treatment in people whose cancers have grown beyond the pancreas and can’t be removed by surgery (locally advanced/unresectable cancers).
Chemotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer:
Chemotherapy (chemo) is an anti-cancer drug injected into a vein or taken by mouth. These drugs enter the bloodstream and reach almost all areas of the body, making this treatment potentially useful for cancers whether or not they have spread across the other parts.
Chemo can be given before surgery to try to shrink the tumor so it can be removed with less extensive surgery. Neoadjuvant chemo is often used to treat cancers that are too big to be removed by surgery at the time of diagnosis (called locally advanced cancers).
Chemo can be used after surgery to try to kill any cancer cells that have been left behind or have spread but can’t be seen, even on imaging tests. If these cells were permitted to grow, they could form new tumors in other places in the body. This type of treatment might lower the chance that the cancer will come back later.
Advanced pancreatic cancer:
Chemo can be used when the cancer is advanced and can’t be removed completely with surgery, or if surgery isn’t an option, or if the cancer has spread to other organs of the patient’s body.
Targeted Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer
As researchers have learned more about the changes in pancreatic cancer cells that help them grow, they have developed newer drugs to specifically target these changes. These targeted drugs work differently from standard chemo drugs. Sometimes they work when standard chemo drugs don’t, and they often have different side effects.
Immunotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer:
Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to stimulate a patient’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively. Certain types of immunotherapy can be used to treat pancreatic cancer.