Pancreatic Cancer

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Treating Pancreatic Cancer TOPICS

How is pancreatic cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General treatment information

After the cancer is found and staged, your cancer care team will discuss treatment options with you. It is important that you take time to think about your choices. You will want to weigh the benefits of each treatment option against the possible risks and side effects. In choosing a treatment plan, two of the main factors to consider are whether or not the cancer can be removed (resected) with surgery and your overall health.

The main types of treatment for pancreatic cancer are:

Pain control is also an important part of treatment for many patients.

Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, some of these treatments may be combined.

Doctors on your cancer treatment team might include:

  • A surgeon: a doctor who uses surgery to treat cancers or other problems
  • An endocrinologist: a doctor who treats diseases in glands that secrete hormones
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who uses chemotherapy and other medicines to treat cancer

Many other specialists might be part of your treatment team as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, and other health professionals. See Health Professionals Associated With Cancer Care for more on this.

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. It’s also very important to ask questions if there is anything you’re not sure about. You can find some good questions to ask in the section “What should you ask your doctor about pancreatic cancer?

The next few sections describe the different types of treatment for pancreatic cancer. This is followed by a discussion of the most common treatments for pancreatic cancer by stage.


Last Medical Review: 06/11/2014
Last Revised: 06/11/2014