Pancreatic Cancer: Types of Treatment

Although pancreatic cancer is a difficult one, there are treatment options:

Pancreatic cancer

If the cancer is detected early, surgery can remove all or part of the pancreas depending on the tumor’s size and location. Laparoscopy of the abdomen can determine if cancer has spread. If it has, surgery is generally not recommended.

For operable cancers located in the head of the pancreas, the doctor may perform a Whipple procedure which removes the head and part of the small intestine.

If the cancer is located in the tail of the pancreas, the surgeon will remove the tail and body of the pancreas as well as the spleen.

If the cancer has spread throughout the pancreas, it will require removal of the entire pancreas, part of the small intestine, a portion of the stomach, the common bile duct, the gallbladder, and the spleen.

There are a number of radiation therapies available. Traditional radiation is the most common. Others such as Cyberknife or Proton Beam Therapy may not be appropriate for every person.

Chemotherapy is also used to treat pancreatic cancer. First-line chemotherapy is the first drug used. If it proves to be ineffective, a second drug may be tried. Off-label use refers to treatment by a drug not specifically FDA approved for pancreatic cancer but which research shows may work.

Targeted therapy takes into account the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment to block the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Other options include immunotherapy and clinical trials.


World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day

Pancreatic cancer

In honor of this date (November 15), I’d like to share some information about the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. It is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, killing more people than breast cancer. It’s projected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths by 2020.

Only nine percent of people with pancreatic cancer will live five years beyond diagnosis. In 2018, more than 55,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease and an estimated 44,000 people will die.

Because more people are getting imaging tests such as CT scans, benign and pre-cancerous growths are being found more often. However, most patients are diagnosed when the disease has spread outside of the pancreas and surgery is no longer an option. The chances of survival increase tenfold if a patient is diagnosed in time for surgery.

Several risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer: family history of the disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, smoking, obesity, race, age, and diet.

Common symptoms include abdominal or mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea, changes in stool, and new-onset diabetes. Often these symptoms are vague and attributed to other conditions.

For more information, visit the website of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network,




Living Beyond Breast Cancer

breast cancer - Living Beyond

Among the myriad resources available for women with breast cancer, Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) is a winner.

Founded in 1991 by Marisa C. Weiss, MD, a radiation oncologist, the organization offers a library of free guides and booklets, a breast cancer helpline, conferences, live 90-minute panel discussions available in person or online, webinars, and an online writing program to help breast cancer patients express themselves.

In addition, LBBC offers a small quantity of life grants and a nutrition education workshop series for women in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Specialized programs includes those for young women, men, African-Americans, and LGBT people.

Their medical board includes doctors specializing in palliative care, radiation oncology, integrative cancer treatment, and breast cancer research. Other professionals include clinical social workers and professors of family medicine and community health.

LBBC is nationally recognized and relies on volunteers and donors to enable them to offer their services for free.

For more information, visit their website at or find them on social media.