Depending on the type, size and stage of your pancreatic cancer, we can use surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments to remove or treat it. If the cancer is too widespread to remove it in its entirety, Mount Carmel offers palliative surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy to relieve symptoms. No matter the circumstances, our multidisciplinary team of physicians will present you with the best possible treatment options for your specific case.
A surgical procedure may be necessary to remove a tumor, a section or the entire pancreas, and/or the small intestine. The type of surgery depends on the stage of the cancer, the location and size of the tumor, and your health. The types of surgery we offer for pancreatic cancer include:
- Whipple procedure - This is the most commonly performed surgical procedure for pancreatic cancer and involves removal of the head of the pancreas (wher most pacreatic tumors occur), part of the small intestine, the gall bladder, part of the stomach, and lymph nodes near the head of the pancreas.
- Distal Pancreatectomy - If a tumor is located in the body and tail of the pancreas, both of those sections of the pancreas are removed during this procedure, along with the spleen.
- Total Pancreatectomy - This is a rare procedure during which the entire pancreas, part of the small intestine and stomach, the common bile duct, the spleen, the gallbladder, and some lymph nodes are removed.
- Palliative Surgery - For more advanced cancers, palliative surgery may be done not to try to cure the cancer, but to relieve problems such as a blocked bile duct.
External Radiation (external beam therapy)
This short, painless treatment sends precise, high levels of radiation directly to the cancer cells to kill them and to shrink tumors. It may be given alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to treat cancerous cells by interfering with their ability to grow or reproduce. It can be given alone or in combination with surgery and radiation therapy. Some of these drugs are Gemzar (Gemcitabine), Tarceva, xeloda and 5-FU (fluorouracil).
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy
For patients in advanced disease stages or who require an alternative to surgery, stereotactic body radiation therapy provides some patients an additional treatment option. Stereotactic radiosurgery systems like the CyberKnife® can offer effective treatment of pancreatic tumors while carrying a low risk of side effects. CyberKnife treatment is completed in five or fewer outpatient procedures and does not involve surgery or sedation. There are ongoing studies to determine tong-term effectiveness, but the early results have been promising, feasible and safe. At Mount Carmel, CyberKnife treatment is provided by Columbus CyberKnife.