Pancreatic Cancer Overview

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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.

About treatment

After the cancer is found and staged, your cancer care team will discuss treatment options with you. Take time to think about your choices. Weigh the benefits of each option against the possible risks and side effects. In choosing a treatment plan, some of the main factors to think about 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:

Some of these treatments may be combined. Pain control is also an important part of treatment for many patients

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 make 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 experts may be involved in your care as well; these could include physician assistants (PA), nurse practitioners (NPs), nurses, psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, and others. See Health Professionals Associated With Cancer Care for more on this.

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. Ask questions if there is anything you’re not sure about. You can find some good questions to ask in the section “What are some questions I can ask my doctor about pancreatic cancer?

Last Medical Review: 08/01/2014
Last Revised: 01/09/2015